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Guy Woolman – Anterior Approach Hip Replacement Success Story

Flyin' High with a New Hip
Southwest Airlines Pilot Guy Woolman

Guy Woolman, Southwest Airlines pilot, had his second anterior approach hip replacement surgery at Methodist Dallas, and was back in the cockpit flying three weeks later. 

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Southwest Airlines Pilot Guy Woolman anterior approach to hip replacement patient at Methodist Dallas Medical Center success story Moving fast is part of 60-year-old Guy Woolman's everyday life as a pilot – in college ROTC, in the U.S. Air Force, and for the past 17 years for Southwest Airlines. He loves the magic and the challenges of flying. But when hip problems threatened to take him out of the clouds, he took action.

He had back surgery in 2004 for a ruptured disk, and when problems returned four years ago, he thought it was his back again.

"It got worse and was affecting my life, and I was limping a lot," the Cedar Hill resident says. "Then it impacted my running. I've run since I was 13, and it's one of the constants in my life." By March 2010 the pain even kept him from running on a treadmill.

"The pain was getting worse," Woolman says. "Ironically the most comfortable place for me was in the pilot seat. I threatened to take one home! I was having trouble getting out of chairs; it would pop and be painful down in my hip area. Then I started having trouble sleeping, so I looked for options and saw a doctor."

The doctor diagnosed a hip problem, referred Woolman for tests, and brought up surgery. "It all sounded pretty onerous," Woolman said.

Woolman researched options and visited two independently practicing physicians on the medical staff at Methodist Health System. He first saw Danny Nicholls, MD, at Methodist Mansfield Medical Center. Dr. Nicholls recommended using the anterior approach to hip replacement and suggested Woolman see Phil Berry, MD, at Methodist Dallas Medical Center about the procedure.

A fast-moving recovery

Southwest Airlines Pilot Guy Woolman anterior approach to hip replacement patient at Methodist Dallas Medical Center success story In Dr. Berry's waiting room, Woolman heard two women talking about their hip surgeries.

"One lady in a wheelchair had a conventional hip surgery done elsewhere and was still having problems after six months," he recalls. "The other lady was there for a six-week follow-up checkup after her anterior approach procedure, and she looked like she could go ballroom dancing!" Woolman adds that this confirmed what he had learned in his own research, and he had the anterior surgery two weeks later.

"It's been incredible," he says. "It always surprises everyone how fast I came back. I could put on my compression socks unassisted the first day. I was in the gym at one week. In eight days, I drove. At 10 days, my son and I got on a plane to go to two NCAA basketball games, and I drove back to Dallas from Houston. Two-and-a-half weeks after surgery, I went into a flight simulator and was back flying fully at three-and-a-half weeks, playing basketball, and riding road bikes."

Dr. Berry says Woolman is a good example of why the anterior approach to hip replacement has its advantages.

"He was walking down the hall the same day as surgery without a walker or other support, went home the next day, and returned to flying less than a month after his surgery," Dr. Berry says.

"I continue to be astounded at what motivated patients are able to do and how quickly they return to a fully functional lifestyle. My excitement continues with each patient's success story."

The anterior approach is a revolutionary addition to hip replacement, using modern metals and other materials but cutting no muscle and allowing patients to walk the same day as surgery.The secret to the surgery's success

"This has been the most exciting thing for me to offer patients in my 40-year career in medicine," Dr. Berry says. "It slides the recovery period from three months to between two to three weeks."

Woolman says he's a huge advocate for the surgery. "It's easier on the patient, which means it's easier on your family, and you can get back to work faster," he says. "It's cheaper with no rehabilitation, so it's good for everybody.

"Every day now I'm getting better instead of getting worse."

From the fall 2011 edition of Shine magazine


Texas law prohibits hospitals from practicing medicine. The physicians on the Methodist Health System medical staff are independent practitioners who are not employees or agents of Methodist Health System.


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