Inside The Operating Room: Frank Vascellaro’s Major Hip Surgery

By Frank Vascellaro, WCCO-TV

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — For weeks, viewers were hearing the phrase, “Frank Vascellaro has the night off.” He wasn’t on an extended vacation; Vascellaro was recovering from hip resurfacing surgery.

It’s a surgical alternative to a total hip replacement that some younger patients are considering. Vascellaro shares with you the ins and outs of undergoing this surgery, what it takes to recover and what the future holds for his hips.

The day before my hip surgery, I was actually walking pretty well.

“I’m not limping as bad as other days,” I told my colleagues. “Some days it’s pretty good. Other days, I’m dragging it around and I look like Frankenstein.”

A few weeks before the surgery, Amelia put her foot down.

“I finally said, ‘you need to go to doctor,” she said. “You need to see what’s going on.”

I had tried a lot of things — cortisone, chiropractic, acupressure, weightlifting — they all helped ease the pain for a while, but the pain kept coming back.

Dr. Scott Anseth told me I have osteoarthritis. We scheduled my surgery for April 1 at Abbott Northwestern. I didn’t know which kind it would be; total hip replacement or the less invasive hip resurfacing. I wouldn’t know until I woke up from surgery.

Anseth explained the difference between the two procedures.

“A replacement and a resurfacing do almost the exact same thing,” he said. “It’s just that the resurfacing preserves a little bit more bone.”

With a resurfacing, Anseth reshapes the head of the hip and puts a metal cap on it. With a full hip replacement, he would put a titanium stem down into the thigh bone.

“We’ll see what happens,” he said, as he walked into the operating room.

It’s a good thing I was out cold during surgery. When I watched the video later, I couldn’t believe how much hammering and drilling was involved.

Once Anseth got a good look at my hip, he decided to go ahead with the resurfacing, which is also known as the Birmingham hip. The technique was perfected by doctors in Birmingham, England who wanted to fix hips without removing so much bone.

The Birmingham uses a bigger ball, so it’s less likely to become dislocated. It also uses metal-on-metal instead of metal-on-plastic. That seems to work fine for men, but some women have had problems with the metal-on-metal combination.

Resurfacing is considered more challenging surgery to perform. My doctor calls it an art.

“It’s hard to describe, but it’s kind of like when you play golf and you hit a good shot, and you just know it as soon as it leaves the club,” he said. “That sort of looking at it, reaming it, trying to get it perfect, ’cause really our goal is perfect every time.”

Just before closing, Anseth does something he calls the “sleep test.” He moves my leg up and around, bending my knee up toward my chest.

“If it’s stable here, it’s probably going to be really good,” he said during the procedure. “We can bring it up and I don’t think Frank’s leg has seen that far up in a long time.”

After the surgery, Anseth told Amelia the good news.

“For a young guy like him, the biggest thing I like best about it is we preserved a bunch of this native bone,” he said. “So hopefully in 20 or 25 years, if he needs to have a second surgery, it’ll be a little bit more like the first time around.”

The next day at Abbott Northwestern’s Joint Replacement Center, I met other hip and knee replacement patients. One of them was even younger than me. He was on his second Birmingham hip replacement.

The whole group had lunch and did physical therapy together. Thanks to camaraderie and competition, doctors and therapists believe it works better than individual therapy.

Afterward, anyone who wanted it could take part in a free acupuncture session. It was the most relaxed I’d felt in months. I got to go home the next day with a long list of exercises of to do.

Two weeks later, I was at Anseth’s office at Twin Cities Orthopedics with Amelia. Anseth checked out the nine-inch scar on my butt.

“It looks perfect, that’s an absolutely perfect incision,” he said. “You look great, so as of today, you can go to weight-bearing as tolerated.”

I lived with pain for 14 months. Now, I’m almost ready to get rid of my crutches. I feel good. It’s been a long time since I felt good. If I have a regret, it’s that I didn’t get hip resurfacing sooner.

Unfortunately, I’ll probably need to replace the other hip within the next few years. Anseth said we won’t talk about that until we have to.

Paula Engelking, Producer
Contact Paula

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Comments

One Comment

  1. Brenda says:

    Very informative…very intense…but interesting…we missed Frank! Best wishes-Thank goodness he’s back.

  2. Mike says:

    Good call Amelia! I too depend on my wife to help me make those hard decisions and getting in to see the doctor when I put it off, is high on that list. Take your time with the recovery Frank and you should be good as new after you heal. Good Luck!

  3. Big Ron says:

    This isn’t news.

    1. Jim says:

      And yet here you are.

      1. Will says:

        Because it’s such a stupid story to report on, that’s why we’re here. It’s normal to not have a connection to someone you don’t know. Sure, we wish him no ill will, but come on, people have hip surgery every day. There’s no end to the political correctness. Yeah, he seems like a nice guy but there are lots of nice people in the world, do they get newstime? No. And they probably wouldn’t want to either.

  4. Lucas Voorhees says:

    I was curious if Frank knows the company that made the hip? Was it J&J?

  5. red says:

    Ron- stick a cork in it. This is interesting and informative. Some of us have wondered where Frank has been and I myself have hip issues

    1. jake says:

      Good for you red., but Ron can have an opinion too.

  6. Phil Mcrackin says:

    Scary, someone as young as Frank having those problems.

  7. Mary says:

    I also have hip problems and now I know that Abbott has a joint replacement center. I will now go in and get a second opinion before automatically having the hip replacement surgery that has been recommended. Thanks for the information

  8. Keith Johnson says:

    Hey Frank,
    Glad to hear things are going well for you. Makes me think I need to hurry up and get mine done. I felt the part where you talk about the pain. I want to be rid of that part. Peace and God bless you!!

  9. Mary Jane says:

    Very interesting story! I am having both hips replace in June. I need as much encouragement as I can get. Glad you are doing so well and I hope to have a good outcome as well.

  10. Linda says:

    Those of us that watch ‘CCO care very much about the “cco family. Glad you are doing so well, Frank. Thank you for sharing this info on a less invasive procedure. I’m sure not many people were aware of this surgery and thanks to you now we know all about it and for us baby boomers that info could help many people in the future. GREAT REPORTING FRANK – thinking of your viewers even at a time like this.

  11. Leadfoot says:

    I had hip resurfacing done by Dr. Anseth in Feb of this year and couldn’t be happier with the results. The Joint Replacement Program at Abbott is great and I would definitely recommend it.

  12. Jay Pearson says:

    As more and more of us need this type of surgery it’s good to know about this.
    It seems that nowadays they’re replacing/surfacing everything – almost!
    Good for us.

  13. Ted says:

    The Birmingham Hip Resurfacing System (BHR) is imported from England by Smith & Nephew. I have two sets.

  14. Jen says:

    My husband had bilateral hip resurfacing done one year ago by Dr. Hartman, also of Twin Cities Ortho. His only regret, like Frank, was waiting so long to have it done! He is now enjoying a pain-free life, doing yard work and wrestling with his boys!

  15. Susan says:

    Frank:
    What exactly caused the hip to get to this point?
    I’ve injured my hip muscles and all.
    I actually was not able to do much for over a year or more, but with
    patience and physical therapy, I came out just fine.
    Resurfacing sounds a bit like “Ouch” because of the drilling, etc.
    I hope that you don’t need anymore surgery in a few years.
    I don’t believe in trying to make your body do something that
    it can do if you just let the correction take place in a period of time.
    It sounds like you did, but maybe a few more months could of gave
    you the chance to opt out of surgery.
    Who knows?
    My pain on my left hip/muscles was from loads of stress.
    Stress can really take a tole on our body.
    Managing stress can really help the body heal properly too !
    Doctors don’t even know everything and this sounds like a very
    intense surgery.
    Hope that your decision was a good one.
    I will pray for you !
    God Bless You For All Of Your Hard Work At WCCO !
    Wishing you the best !
    Your friend always !

  16. Susan says:

    Frank:
    What exactly caused the hip to get to this point?
    I’ve injured my hip muscles and all.
    I actually was not able to do much for over a year or more, but with
    patience and physical therapy, I came out just fine.
    Resurfacing sounds a bit like “Ouch” because of the drilling, etc.
    I hope that you don’t need anymore surgery in a few years.
    I don’t believe in trying to make your body do something that
    it can do if you just let the correction take place in a period of time.
    It sounds like you did, but maybe a few more months could of gave
    you the chance to opt out of surgery.
    Who knows?
    My pain on my left hip/muscles was from loads of stress.
    Stress can really take a tole on our body.
    Managing stress can really help the body heal properly too !
    Doctors don’t even know everything and this sounds like a very
    intense surgery.
    Hope that your decision was a good one.
    I will pray for you !
    God Bless You For All Of Your Hard Work At WCCO !
    Wishing you the best !
    Your friend always !

    Susan

  17. Ron Strom, Spicer MN says:

    Hi Frank,
    Glad to hear the surgery went so well. I’m going to make sure my 33 year old son reads this story. He’s just booking his total hip replacement, he has to have both done, maybe your story will relieve his foreboding. Thankyou for sharing.
    Another Ron

  18. NewHipBabe says:

    SUSAN, Yes, your ideas of alternative medical ideas are awesome, especially to those of us who have tried them in vain, however, I fear you realize that some people are born with genetic defects!. Birth defects such as his dysplasia and congenital hips give way to early natural bone failure much earlier than those of you experiencing simple problems at just 40… so, until then, don’t criticize Frank, or anyone for that matter, UNTIL you, YOU – the doctor…(?) know the historical and genetic makeup at play!!! Perhaps you best ask Frank his past history or don’t assume that it’s just ‘because he has ‘ pain that he underwent the knife… I will gladly take the knife after I meet with my surgeon this week, after spending half my life in pain due to birth defects and severe arthritis while in my early 40’s. Until I can, which I never would, sue my parents for passing their bad gene’s to me, I take the knife!!!!! Your “OUCH” is welcome!!!!!!!!

    1. Sue says:

      Elective surgery means Frank wasn’t dying, he was needed help to live a better life. Being exposed to enough people that come out of surgery with
      some regrets about their decision, I guess you could say that alternatives are not a bad thing as there is never any guarantee when it comes to anything in life of the Surgery Outcome !
      Niacin, Fish Oil, etc. tend to help many out there with issues.
      An open mind is a good thing and so it never hurts to do boat loads of research to have your eyes open before getting Surgery and all.

      Stress can fool your body into feeling pain, just like the muscles can
      guard your spine and create pain.
      You can have deferred pain which means you feel pain in one area, but the true
      sense of the pain is coming from somewhere else.

      So listen to your body and really know that your spine is not telling you something and you are not listening to it.

      God Bless You Always !

  19. Sally says:

    I had a Birmingham Hip resurfacing done in June of 2009. It really made a big improvement in my life. Unfortunately, I too will have to have surgery on the other hip sometime in the future.

    I’m glad you reported on this. The report was not about hip replacement, but hip resurfacing, which is an exciting option that a lot of people are unaware of. If you are relatively young and active this is definitely the way to go. By the way, I’m a 57 year old female who does yoga twice a week as well as Zumba (high energy dance class) when I can fit it in. I doubt if I could be so active and flexible with a total hip replacement. .

    1. Vicky says:

      It is fantastic that Frank was able to get the BHR or Birmingham Hip Resurfacing procedure. For younger more active people that is the ideal procedure to get to maintain an active lifestyle. All patients should be aware that this option exists. Good for you Frank for informing people about this fantastic option that most surgeons never even tell their patients about. I had my left hip resurfaced almost 5 1/2 years ago overseas and just had my right one done about 5 months ago. People can return to full activities even heavy impact like marathons and triathlons with hip resurfacing where it is not recommended at all or at times not possible with a total hip replacement. Check out all the patient stories on hipresurfacingstie.com to see how incredible this procedure really is with all of the patients that have returned to Ironman, Martial Arts, every sport you can imagine. The youngest patient on there is only 14 years old. A total Hip Replacement was designed for people in their 70’s. If you are young and active and need a hip, find a skilled and experienced surgeon that does both hip resurfacing and THR in order to make an informed decision.
      http://www.hipresurfacingsite.com/

  20. Joelle says:

    Frank, I too need a hip replacement. Dr. Anseth is my surgeon as well. He is amazing! I did get a second to confirm what my options were. I have tried physical therapy and cortisone injections but it is not working well. Like you I have osteoarthritis in my hips, knees, back, and ankles.. I appreciate you telling your story becasue it offered support and encouragement

  21. Susan says:

    I had hip resurfacing done in 2005. It was before it was FDA approved, so I traveled to South Carolina and was resurfed by Dr. Thomas Gross a surgeon at the forefront of this procedure in the US. I found about it throught the internet…yahoo healthgroup…Surfacehippy. I held many “hippy’ parties at my home and restaurants to introduce the procedure to people who were in need of a new hip. At that time, you had to travel out of MN to get a resurf. I am so happy that it is now approved in the US (it has been used in Europe for quite awhile) and is done in MN. Thank you, Frank, for putting the word out for the public. Sounds like your surgeon was great. My hip is great…I do yoga, dance, am active and have NO pain! Check the website hipresurfacingsite.com as suggested above.

  22. Cheryl Keller says:

    My now 47 year old husband, John, had Dr. Scott Anseth do his first & second hip replacement. Being so young and having a genetic arthritis( his father had both his hips replaced in his late 60’s) John was told by two other orthopaedic surgeons to suffer with the pain & wait until he was older to get the surgery. I always believe that seeing a news story in 2007 was a Godsend as that’s how we learned about the hip resurfacing Scott was doing. John had his first surgery July 30th, 2007 & although his bones were too tough for Dr. Anseth to do a resurfacing, his total hip replacement went well. He was without crutches in less than 2 weeks and back to

  23. scott hayden says:

    a few months ago you guys showed a mugshot of a sex offender name byron robinson.i think he may be 47 or 48 years old.i had a friend who was unjustly sent to the lake park wild rice children’s home in fergus falls mn there were 3 sex offenders liveing there.byron was one of them.i have this feeling that he may be the same one that i saw on the news.and the athere was mike schmitt.so can you please send me the mugshots?we have to if it’s the same one.

  24. scott hayden says:

    the lake park wild rice children’s home in fergus falls mn abuses kids they should be held accountabl.they tricked and lied to my friend’s mother just to keep him there.he was a innocent victim of a conspiracy.we just want to get the woout on how bad that home was.now my friend sent his story to wcco asingment room.and he wants everyone to know about it.please everyone anyone plaese tell them you want to hear about this.that home was bad as bad as you can go.we think was run by criminals.at home he was sexualy abused by a teacher whan he was 4 years old.and he was being abused at home and at the school he want to.his mom and dad were not takeing care of his right.it’s not that he wouldn’t learn it’s because he couldn’t learn with all the abuse.and at the children’s home was abuseing him to.they all were just to punitive with him.one teacher name jack brooks was allways beating him.one day he bing my friend’s head on the desk.and was sexualy abused by a older boy name mike the guy with the silver tooth.and possbly by biron robinson.but we’r not sure on that one yet.and there was a nothere sexoffender name steve camacho.he would take kids down to the woods to get them to pull down their pants to see whats there.so they had 3 sexoffeners there.i don’t think they told the parents what was liveing there.so now my friend want to tell all about the abuse.he sent his story to wcco.he want it known that that home was bad!!!!he was abused and sexualy abused and assaulted.and emotional and maybe mentel abuse.and badly neglected to.so can you help us to get everyone?attentiom please?

  25. scott hayden says:

    the lake park wild rice children’s home was a very bad place.i think they inflicted stockholn syndrome on my frinend.that is why he stayed there for so long.

    1. peter peterson says:

      hi im peter peterson.i use to live by that home in fergus falls mn.iv’e allways had this feeling that some thing wasn’t right about the lake park wild rice children’s home in fergus falls mn.and now i know they were abuseing those kids.and the off ground kids were doing nothen harrassing those kids.shame shame shame on you fergus falls for doing that!!!!!!!!hay wcco please say something on the news about the<i for one would love to hear about this.and im sure everyone else would love to hear about it to.look there maybe other victims out there to who would love to hear about this to,you just can't ignor the.so please help scott to help his friend to tell his story.we all wan't to know about it.so every one who sees this please help them get the word out.and let there be justice for him.

  26. scott hayden says:

    lastweek i put a message on this thing about what that lake park wild rice children’s home in fergus falls was doing.why don’t i see it and why did you guys take it off this thing?i want everyone to know about what that home did.one worker saw mike sexualy abuseing my friend and we don’t think any thing was done.and we don’t think his parents dosen’t know or else they wouldv’e said something.i want it known that home was bad.

  27. Patty says:

    After just hearing on the news tonight (3/19) by Amelia about Frank’s second hip surgery, I just had to share this story. My husband, after hearing about your first surgery in April, decided to go to Abbott Northwestern and see an orthopedic surgeon (he was hoping to see your dr. – Dr. Anseth), but was able to see a doctor that was fairly new to Abbott, Dr. Hunt. It was decided and agreed by both dr. and my husband, that they would do a double-hip replacement. (He owned his own contracting company and spent many years up and down ladders, etc., so his cartilage around his hips was completely gone).
    I am so thrilled that you shared your story on TV and we were able to schedule and have done my husband’s double-hip surgery (at the young age of 57).
    He had his surgery December 20th, and today 3 months later, is walking so well it brings tears to my eyes.
    Thanks, Frank and Amelia, for sharing the story and inspiring us to get my husband into Abbott and to get the surgery done. Frank you went through the pain, Amelia you had to take care of the “pain”.

  28. Mary says:

    If you need a total hip replacement, look into the anterior direct approach. I am 58 yr old homemaker and had the poceedure done on the 21st of Dec. in Fargo ND. I have only a 2 and 1/2 inch scar on the front of my hip. As no muscles were cut, I was able to go walker, crutch and cane free within 10 days and home after only 3 days in the hospital. If my left hip would ever need replacing, I would go that way again without a second though. This Dr. was also my 4th opinion. One wanted the BIG scar, the other wouldn’t do it because of age and the 3rd would do a minemum invasive procedure. I also wore 1 1/2 inch heels at 2 1/2 weeks and danced 4 waltzes. Went to Disney World at 6 weeks and San Diego at 10 1/2 weeks, with my biggest hassles being at the MNPLS airport. If you are interested, go to http://www.jointpain.md
    Dr. studied in Calif for 1 year to learn this procedure.

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