Robert B Two New Hips, One New Life

“I can do everything I want to do—even on the dance floor, This hip surgery is the best thing that ever happened to me. I’d recommend Dr. Yoon to anyone.”

For 45 years, Robert Bruce has spent workdays on the road. “Any day I’m driving, it’s a good day,” says Robert, a 64-year-old professional truck driver from Jersey City. “I see a lot of scenery on my routes, and, inside the truck, I’m my own boss.”

One day about two years ago, as he climbed into his truck, his right hip started to hurt. “I didn’t think anything of it,” he says. “I thought I was just getting old.”

But as time went on, the pain got worse. It soon occurred in both hips. He needed to use the door handles and grab bars on his truck just to climb into the driver’s seat of his cab.

Robert lived with the pain for nearly a year. “But then it got to the point where it hurt all the time,” he says. “I couldn’t climb onto the truck anymore. I needed a helper to unload the truck. I had to go to the hospital.”

A Pain-Relief Plan

Retirement wasn’t an option for Robert—he needed to continue his career. So, he sought help at his hometown hospital, Jersey City Medical Center (JCMC), from Richard S. Yoon, MD, FAAOS, an orthopedic surgeon at JCMC and a member of RWJBarnabas Health Medical Group. “My mother-in-law had her hip replaced by Dr. Yoon about 10 years ago and highly recommended him,” Robert says.

“When Robert saw me, he was in miserable pain,” Dr. Yoon recalls. “His gait was off, and he was limping horribly.” An X-ray revealed the full extent of the damage. “He had no cartilage left in his hips, and his hip joints were completely obliterated,” Dr. Yoon says. He was at the point of no return.”

Richard S. Yoon, MD, FAAOS
Richard S. Yoon, MD, FAAOS

Dr. Yoon’s plan: two hip replacement surgeries, spaced several months apart. For both, Dr. Yoon would use the direct anterior approach to hip replacement, a minimally invasive, muscle-sparing technique designed to accelerate healing.

“I was ready to have the surgeries and get them over with,” Robert says.

Quick Recoveries

On January 5, 2023, Dr. Yoon performed the first surgery on Robert’s right hip. “The next morning, they got me walking and up on a stair, and I couldn’t believe it,” Robert says. “I was tempted to start walking again right then and there.”

“The direct anterior approach was ideal for Robert to allow for a rapid recovery,” Dr. Yoon says. “He was back on his feet immediately, and, after the surgery on the first side, he only needed to use a cane because we still had to do the second side.”

After physical therapy and some rest, Robert returned to JCMC on May 6, 2023, for the second surgery. Again, he was up and walking the next day. “I had no pain, no stiffness, no soreness,” Robert says.

Through it all, Robert and Dr. Yoon developed a good rapport. “He was a straight-up guy with me,” Robert says. “He treated me real nice and even had me laughing the day after surgery.”

A year after his hip replacement procedures, Robert is back to a normal life. He’s driving a truck and enjoying dinners out and dancing with Eula, his wife of 29 years. “I can do everything I want to do—even on the dance floor,” he says. “This hip surgery is the best thing that ever happened to me. I’d recommend Dr. Yoon to anyone.”

An Advanced Approach to Total Hip Replacement

Orthopedic surgeon Richard S. Yoon, MD, FAAOS, is highly experienced in performing total hip replacement surgery and, in most cases, uses the direct anterior approach because the advanced method offers unique advantages for many patients.

In a traditional posterior approach, surgeons access the hip joint through an incision close to the buttocks. This involves cutting through the hip muscles and soft tissue.

In a direct anterior approach, surgeons make an incision in the front of the hip and access it through a naturally occurring space between the muscles. This technique minimizes post-surgery pain, promotes faster healing and reduces the risk of complications.

During the procedure, patients lie on a table designed specifically for the direct anterior approach. Dr. Yoon uses interoperative fluoroscopy—a special type of X-ray—to guide the hip implant into the proper position.

“The anterior approach is probably my favorite surgery to do because patients have such good results,” Dr. Yoon says. “In fact, I sometimes have to tell patients not to overdo it during recovery because they feel so good.”

Almost anyone can benefit from the direct anterior approach when it’s performed by a skilled surgeon. (Exceptions include patients with morbid obesity, who generally don’t qualify for the approach.) “At Jersey City Medical Center, we see a lot of patients who are younger and need to remain active to make a living,” Dr. Yoon says. “The anterior approach helps them get back on their feet to live a pain-free life, return to work and take care of their families.”

Learn more about joint surgery services at RWJBarnabas Health.