Hip Replacement Surgery

A Life Changer

Dr. Wilson is a hip replacement patientHip pain was the farthest thought from Joseph Wilson, MD’s mind as he and his wife, Kim, twirled around the dance floor on a delightful, spring day at their much-anticipated wedding reception. The 55-year-old otolaryngologist (ears, nose and throat surgeon) says being able to dance with Kim—and subsequently enjoy a two-week honeymoon in Bermuda—was something that would have otherwise been nearly impossible, had he not undergone hip replacement surgery just a few short months prior. Four weeks after the surgery that, according to Dr. Wilson, completely changed his life, he was even able to take ballroom dancing lessons. “I had to get ready for the wedding!” he states with a chuckle.

However, life for Dr. Wilson wasn’t always a walk—or dance—in the park. Prior to the surgery, his hip pain was persistent and chronic. It even began to affect his work as a surgeon. “I thought I might not be able to continue,” he recalls. “The pain was so bad that I needed to take pain medication, and as a physician, I felt I needed to get it taken care of so I could practice without any distractions.”

A compression fracture in his hip bone was the final straw.  He set up an appointment with Susan E. Barrett, MD, MPH, an orthopedic surgeon with the Mulroy Orthopaedic Surgery & Sports Medicine practice in Milford and a member of Milford Regional’s medical staff. “I wanted to find somebody who had a reputation for doing a good job and for taking his or her time in the operating room. I wanted someone who cares about the patient,” Dr. Wilson emphasizes. “I had a lot of respect for Dr. Barrett, and I knew she was good.”

As a surgeon himself, Dr. Wilson knew what he was looking for in a surgeon. In particular, Dr. Barrett’s low complication rate made her stand out. Dr. Wilson also appreciated her willingness to explain the effectiveness of different types of hip prostheses. “As a physician, I sort of knew what was going on, but I’m not an expert in orthopedics. She was able to explain things thoroughly so we could make a decision together,” he recalls with appreciation.

Dr. Barrett, who performs one to two joint replacements weekly at Milford Regional, enjoys helping patients who need hip replacements because she feels she can truly make a difference in their lives. Her fellowship in hip and knee arthroplasty at Massachusetts General Hospital prepared her for patients of varying ages and activity levels. “It prepared me for different situations as well as solutions,” she points out. “It prepared me for anything that can happen in the operating room.”

There was no doubt in Dr. Wilson’s mind as to where he would undergo the surgery. “I chose Milford Regional because I know it’s a great hospital,” he states emphatically. “I work there, so I know the people… Milford Regional has a great reputation. It’s small enough that you don’t get lost in the shuffle.” He also likes the fact that experienced surgeons—rather than residents in training—perform the majority of surgeries at the Medical Center.

During hip replacement surgery, Dr. Barrett makes a minimally invasive incision, removes the diseased hip joint and replaces it with an artificial joint (prosthesis) that best suits the patient. She feels fortunate to work at a Medical Center that gives her the discretion to choose the best prosthesis based upon the patient’s circumstances rather than cost. To ensure the new hip’s longevity, Dr. Barrett takes special care to position it well and repairs the capsule of the hip joint after surgery to decrease the risk of dislocation.

From the moment Dr. Wilson was admitted to Milford Regional to the day he was discharged, staff members worked as part of a seamless team. He was impressed by the thoughtful and sensitive care he received. “They’re caring, friendly and compassionate,” he states. “Things went smoothly, and everything worked like clockwork.”

In fact, he believes his patient experience at Milford Regional made him a better physician because it reminded him of the importance of sympathy and empathy. “It reinforced the need to put myself in their shoes and take the time to listen,” he notes.

When Dr. Wilson was discharged, he was given several supplies that made his life—and recovery—easier, including a walker and crutches. He was also given a tool to help him reach for items on the floor and pull up his own socks. During his recovery, home health nurses and physical therapists from The VNA and Hospice of Greater Milford visited him twice a week. Dr. Wilson appreciated the strength building exercises and their diligence in making sure he performed them correctly.

According to Dr. Barrett, most hip replacement patients can walk within a day, drive within one month and resume normal activity within three months following surgery. With minor exceptions, patients can expect limitless possibilities.

Six weeks after surgery, Dr. Wilson was back to work and is planning to ski next winter. Looking back, he knows that Dr. Barrett and Milford Regional were the right choices; ones that far exceeded his expectations. “I have progressed very well,” he says with satisfaction. “I’m doing things I couldn’t do before, and I feel great!”

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