Two months ago, Beth put her hip to the ultimate test, participating in the Dam Sprint Triathlon at Lake Perris. The event included an 800-yard swim, a 12-mike bike ride and a 5K run
It was 10 years ago. Beth Barney had flown with her husband, Jason, from Utah for the prognosis, and they sat in the doctor’s office in Los Angeles. She felt like a defendant on trial, awaiting the verdict that would decide how she would live the rest of her life.
She did not want to live it as she had the first 22 years. Born with congenital dysplasia – her hip was out of its socket at birth – Beth Barney had a series of surgeries, body casts and braces between her first and second year of life.
But it wasn’t until she was 14 and trying out for the high school basketball team that she really felt the pain. Her doctor diagnosed her with arthritis in her left hip, told her it would only get worse, and advised her to avoid sports and other strenuous activities.
“Unfortunately that wasn’t me,” she said.
Beth Barney played sports year-round and took medication, but her hip continued to deteriorate, though she didn’t realize how badly.
She found out “how bad” at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. Walking to campus and classes as a physical education major made the pain unbearable.
Nuevo resident Beth Barney had a surgery known as surface hip replacement in 2000 and has since rebuilt her life, recently competing in a triathlon at Lake Perris.
“I dreaded going shopping or to the mall,” the Nuevo resident recalled. “That meant walking and standing, and at this time I could only walk about a block before needing to stop and rest.”
Her doctor in Provo added to the hopelessness, telling her she had no cartilage and the best option was a total hip replacement or fusing her hip together.
“I did not want to end up in a wheelchair when I was 40 – which was a likely prognosis to him.”
Enter Dr. Harlan Amstutz, a Los Angeles physician who Beth Barney’s mother had heard about.
Beth Barney and her husband met with Dr. Amstutz, who said she was a perfect candidate for a surgery called surface hip replacement.
“I felt like this was the first day of my new life,” Beth Barney recalled.
The surgery in September 2000 was, at the time, experimental. It is considered a less invasive, bone-conserving technique that uses a metal-on-metal device that Dr. Amstutz developed to treat patients with hip injury, arthritis, or other hip ailments. The device was approved by the FDA in November 2009. During the procedure, bone is conserved by resurfacing the femoral head instead of amputating it, as in total hip replacement.
Dr. Amstutz, 78, professor emeritus of orthopedic surgery at UCLA, is founding director of the Joint Replacement Institute, located at St. Vincent’s Medical Center in Los Angeles. Surface hip replacement has come a long way since he operated on Beth, he said.
“The success for patients like Beth has increased from 88 to 96 percent since we started that procedure in 1996,” said Dr. Amstutz, who grew up in Riverside.
Beth Barney still remembers the day her life changed.
“When I woke up from surgery, as sick as I was from the anesthesia, I remember lying there and all of a sudden realizing that my hip did not hurt,” she recalled.
Today, she can play with her four children, go shopping and exercise.
“These are things I don’t take for granted any more and I hope I never will,” said Beth Barney, who was a teacher but now is a stay-at-home mother.
Two months ago, Beth put her hip to the ultimate test, participating in the Dam Sprint Triathlon at Lake Perris. The event included an 800-yard swim, a 12-mike bike ride and a 5K run.
“I actually surprised myself by doing as well as I did,” she said. In second place after the swim, she finished seventh overall and first among women in her age group, completing the three events in 97 minutes.
“It was so exhilarating and rewarding to do something like this triathlon and to be able to compete again,” she said.
The next time Barney competes in a triathlon, she’ll have someone else cheering her on. The Barneys’ fifth child is due in August.