The patient's right hip (which is on the left side of the above image) is relatively normal -- there's a well-appearing ball and socket which are separated by a nice space on the x-ray (the cartilage layer). In contrast, the patient's left hip (on the right side of the image) has advanced arthritis with obvious abnormalities in the ball and socket, as well as the cartilage that normally coats the two bones. This condition can be quite painful, and often leads to difficulty with walking, climbing stairs and other activities.
In cases of advanced arthritis, joint replacement can be an excellent way to decrease pain and, in turn, improve function. In the hip, this involves replacing the ball (which is attached to the femur, or thigh bone) as well as the socket (which is attached to the pelvis). Here's an x-ray of the same patient depicted above, this one taken shortly after undergoing total hip replacement earlier today:
Total joint replacement of the hip and knee are common procedures in the United States and other wealthy nations, but remain relatively inaccessible for most individuals living in the developing world. As a result, individuals with advanced arthritis continue to suffer with pain, limited mobility and, in certain cases, loss of livelihood.
Thanks to the generous support of Operation Walk donors, scores of disadvantaged patients who would otherwise not have been able to afford joint replacement have been given the opportunity to eliminate pain, and walk again. This is the goal that drives our mission, and we remain deeply grateful to those who enable us to do this work.