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Carolyn Kelley – Anterior Hip Replacement Success Story

A moving milestone

1,000 patients are benefiting from anterior approach hip replacements

White coat, white hair, and the whitest teeth you may ever see in a hospital hallway. Phil Berry Jr., MD, is an icon. The79-year-old orthopedic surgeon has been on the medical staff at Methodist Dallas Medical Center since 1971, when the Oak Cliff campus was the only hospital in the system. He can’t remember how many surgeries he’s performed, but on Aug. 9, 2016, he set a new record: completing his 1,000th anterior approach hip replacement.

Carolyn Kelley had no idea she drew the lucky number until a few days before her scheduled hip replacement surgery.

“I was in a lot of pain,” Carolyn recalls. “I was apprehensive about a hip replacement, but my life totally stopped for four weeks because I was in a wheelchair.”

Dr. Berry put her in that wheelchair to get the weight off her injured hip. The 64-year-old grandmother from Sulphur Springs noticed pain in her hip in August 2015. She saw a specialist in Dallas who gave her cortisone shots to ease the suffering on a trip to Spain. By the time she got back, the pain was excruciating. Weeks later, Carolyn had a colonoscopy in nearby Tyler, and her doctor mentioned that Dr. Berry had recently fixed his hip using the anterior approach, and he was walking the same day. Shortly after, Carolyn slipped in her bathroom and fell, dislocating her femur. That injury prompted her to make the call to Dr. Berry’s office for an appointment.

“I am so glad I was led to Dr. Berry and Methodist Dallas,” Carolyn recalls.

Shorter surgery, shorter recovery

Dr. Berry hadn’t been keeping track of his case numbers, but his staff had. They knew the milestone was coming up. Even he was surprised to learn he was about to hit 1,000 since he had only begun doing the anterior approach in 2007.

“My interest in the anterior approach for hip replacement started when one of our operating nurses brought me a DVD of a doctor doing the procedure,” Dr. Berry remembers. “I said ‘I’ve got to do this.’ I found a doctor in Shreveport who had trained with the guy who started doing this in California. I called him and he said, ‘Sure, come on.’”

Dr. Berry says the anterior approach has revolutionized patient recovery, shortening it from three months to two weeks. Now his patients are up and walking the same day. Carolyn was no different, walking the halls of Schenkel Tower hours after her surgery.

“It’s still a hip replacement; it’s just done in a different direction, and the different direction lets you go in and spread the muscle rather than cut it off the bone and then have to repair that and hope it heals,” Dr. Berry says.

A medical legacy

In 2014, Dr. Berry saw Methodist Dallas become the second trauma center in Dallas County after he helped co-found the air ambulance CareFlite in 1979. In 1985, his orthopedics practice halted when he contracted hepatitis B in the operating room and almost died.

“Thirty years ago, I had to have a liver transplant, and that changed my perspective about what I wanted to become as a doctor,” Dr. Berry says. “I think that is the first part of being a good doctor — caring for the patient. I learned that by being a patient.”

He performed Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings’ hip replacement, among hundreds of others. Without skipping a beat, he says he’s already looking forward to the second thousand patients.

“Every patient is a new opportunity to help someone, and that’s why I’m still here. I’m just glad to be here to do what I can for other people.”
— Phil Berry, MD, orthopedic surgeon,Methodist Dallas

From spring 2017 edition of Shine magazine