Gerald Laroy Cotton's hips caused him constant pain, robbing the Homewood, Illinois, resident of the ability to walk easily or even tie his shoes.
The now retired orthopedic technologist knew he wanted his hip replacements performed using the anterior approach, and he knew he wanted John B. McClellan, MD, to be his orthopedic surgeon. So, Dr. McClellan, a Specialty Physicians of Illinois, LLC, orthopedic surgeon who chooses to practice at Franciscan Health, replaced both hips in 2016 and 2017.
"I'm happy with the results and it's improved my life tremendously," Cotton said. "I can get back to things I couldn't do and stop taking pain medications."
The anterior approach for hip replacements came into use more than 10 years ago, but less than half of orthopedic surgeons are trained to perform them.
"I was initially reluctant to give up something I did well," Dr. McClellan said, "but when I saw results from a few doctors who were using this approach and read some articles in medical journals, I was convinced."
An anterior hip replacement offers significant advantages over the posterior approach, including:
- Less painful post-op
- Faster recovery by two to four weeks
- Smaller incision
- Less blood loss
- Leg lengths are closer to equal
The fact that less cutting is required is behind many of these advantages. During a posterior approach to hip replacement, access is gained by detaching muscles from the bones, which are later reattached. By contrast, the anterior approach involves maneuvering between muscle groups.
The shorter recovery time of an anterior hip replacement is particularly appealing to younger patients, who are seeking replacements in increasing numbers.
While the average recovery time is around two months, patients who work in sedentary jobs are often able to return to work in four weeks. Factors driving down the average age of all replacements include safer, better procedures and longer lasting prostheses.
Recalling Cotton's surgeries, Dr. McClellan cited a combination of attributes that contributed to his fast recovery. "Mr. Cotton had a great attitude, no fear, and worked very hard. He was also in good health, close to his ideal weight and in good physical condition."
The admiration is mutual. "Dr. McClellan wanted to do what was best for his patients, so he went back to school to learn the anterior hip replacement," Cotton said. "I'm very pleased with him. He is an asset to Franciscan Health."
Hip Replacement at Franciscan Health
Orthopedic Services at Franciscan Health
Total Hip Replacement: Anterior Approach