Outsourcing My Hip Surgery: A Medical Tourism Tale

How I went to India to get new hips-and why you shouldn't be afraid to follow my lead

At age 29, after a lifetime of suffering hip pain, I was finally diagnosed with a genetic defect called protrusio acetabuli (overly deep hip sockets). The cure: total hip replacement (THR) in both hips. Though THRs are a solid solution for the elderly or inactive -- and my doctor told me it was the only option I had -- I knew they wear out quickly in athletes, resulting in multiple, miserable revision surgeries.

An avid runner, I delayed surgery for years, losing more range of motion, and gobbling ibuprofen -- ultimately, even Vicoden-- to control crippling pain. Then, I read about a new bone-sparing hip procedure available throughout Europe but, at that time, not yet approved in the United States. Called the Birmingham Hip Resurfacing (BHR), the new procedure differs from traditional total hip replacements -- which lop off the entire femoral head of the bone -- by lightly shaving away bone and cartilage in the area and re-capping it with a mushroom-like metal lid. Instead of a tiny rotating ball that could easily dislocate, BHRs restore the proportions of a healthy hip. Other pluses of the procedure included no weight-bearing precautions and the ability to remain engaged in aerobic sports. I was instantly sold.

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