Free Markets, Free People

Personal stuff

A couple of years ago my wife was told she needed a hip replacement.  To say it shocked her would be an understatement.  After finally accepting it, she got on Google.  And she did research.  She found there were two types of hip replacement surgeries – a posterior approach and an anterior approach.  She also found out the difference was like night and day in terms of recovery.

The anterior approach is by far the superior.  But, since it is a fairly new approach and requires a very expensive table, most doctors who do hip replacement surgery use the posterior approach.  Unfortunately, in the Atlanta area there were only two groups who do the anterior approach and neither of them take our insurance.   So she had a dilemma.  She could get the hip replaced but she was stuck with the posterior approach which required the cutting through a number of muscles in the hip area.

However, we’re talking my wife, Ms. “Never say never”.  She got on the phone with our insurance carrier and started pitching the anterior approach, telling them how superior it was to the other approach and how it would save them money, etc.  Finally, the insurance provider told her to widen her search to a 100 mile radius and she found a doctor in Gainsville, GA, about 40 minutes from where we live who does the anterior approach.  After consultation with him, she made her decision and surgery was today.

I’m amazed.  She went into surgery at 7:30am, was out at 9, in her room at 12, and here’s the amazing part, walking down the hallway of the patient floor at 1pm.  She made an entire circuit.  Not only that, they took her by the physical therapy room and she went up and down stairs.  With her new hip.

Phenomenal.  She leaves tomorrow to go home.  Had she had the other approach she’d be facing 2 weeks in a rehab hospital and months of rehab afterward.

Well, maybe not her, but you get the picture.  She’s a trooper, but her experience isn’t at all uncommon with this approach.  Hip surgery was a huge and painful ordeal that took you out of circulation for a while.  With the anterior approach, it doesn’t have to be anymore.  I don’t know if you or a loved one may have that in their future but if so, insist on finding a doctor that uses the anterior approach.

It is well worth the search.


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15 Responses to Personal stuff

  • We live in a wonderful time.  And…if we manage not to screw it up…it will get wonderfuler.  By leaps and bounds.
    Best wishes to your lady, McQ, for a quick and pain-free recovery.

  • hopes for a quick recovery

  • Great news! Its always important to make your own health decisions. My shoulder got out of joint, and after getting it put back and physical therapy I was happy with the results. I went to a final check by an ortho doctor who had never seen me or the shoulder. He said my shoulder was only at 80% and started talking about a surgery where they open up your shoulder and massage it.
    Ummmm, I’m 43 years old and not a relief pitcher. 80% is just fine and surgeries always risk more problems. I assume its now back to 95% since I use my shoulder without any concern or pain.
    But that doctor would have had me on the chopping block.

  • A relative of my wife recently had hip surgery.  The surgery was done with an anterior incision and he complained that it took forever to heal as the incision was along or near the crease at the top of his leg.  He may need an operation on the other hip, but he’s putting that off due to the trouble he had with the first.  Hopefully, you wife won’t face the same problem.

  • Hmmm … Her incision isn’t anywhere near the crease in her leg.

  • Since I’m 67 1/2 years old, this is something I might need in the future.
    Glad your wife is up and about.  Sending good wishes for her speedy recovery…

    • Thanks Adrienee … if you do, check out anterior.

      • I’ll be 60 in June and for my birthday, I am scheduling a hip replacement to (partially) fix an arthritic hip and pelvis {1}.
        Thus, this is great information as my biggest worry would have been having my wife take off so much time from work to run me to therapy.
        Hopefully my recovery is as efficient as your wife’s! Best regards to her and her continued health.
        {1} I used to have legs that GALS would ogle!

  • She (and you) should check out Dave Tate’s training log at He’s a former power lifter who had hip replacement surgery in February.  It’s remarkable.
    All the best!

  • Anterior approach isn’t always feasible, and can actually cause a more complicated outcome in some instances.   You’re trying to make your cuts in very small spaces, which causes the risk of nerve injury to go up.  The extent of the disease can also make the dislocation extremely difficult, if not impossible.  Also, most people don’t realize how gory the procedure itself really is.  You almost always have to transfuse blood during any hip replacement surgery.  Because the anterior approach takes so much longer, you have greater blood loss, which can be prohibitive for some patients.
    So I guess my point is that if you run into a surgeon that says the anterior approach isn’t for you, don’t just write him off as a quack.  Sometimes that approach could cause you more harm than good, and there really aren’t any studies that definitively state the anterior approach forecasts a quicker recovery.  Much of that is anecdotal.

    • Fred … my wife’s surgery took 45 minutes, which is half the time the posteior approach requires (because they’re cutting muscles and reattaching them, it is about twice as long and more “gory” surgery).  She also required no blood transfusion.  Finally, while anecdotal, all of the physical therapists at this hospital, which does both approaches, say patients with the anterior approach recover much more quickly than do those with the posterior approach.  Additionally, those with the anterior approach have vastly fewer restrictions on their post surgery movement than do those with the other approach.

  • Great news on Mrs. McQ Bruce! I have added her to my prayer list and am praying for a speedy recovery. Although I have never met her she must be a Saint for obvious reasons!
    I have been told that I need a personality replacement. Do you know of any methods other than frontal lobe surgery?

  • Heh, finally, something that made me smile.
    Great news, here’s to continued good luck.