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Tour de France Champ Faces Hip Surgery

Doctors explain why osteonecrosis is leading to hip replacement surgery for cyclist Floyd Landis.

Can Landis Return to Racing? continued...

"Patients are out of the hospital in three days, on crutches for two weeks, using a cane for two to four weeks, which brings you to about a six-week recovery time," says Bronson.

At that point, he says, they are free to begin working out with exercises like swimming and riding a stationary bike.

"As long as there is no pounding on the joints, it's safe to begin activity," says Bronson. And while he says outside bike riding is discouraged for three months because of the risk of falling, after that, regular cycling is not only allowed, it's encouraged.

"I would say that he could be back competing within six months," says Bronson.

Urbaniak agrees: "The prognosis for returning to competitive cycling is good. We let people get on the bike for rehab a few weeks after a total hip replacement and I would guess he could start back training again in six weeks or less, and competing within several months after that."

Long-Lasting Hip Replacements

Some doctors say that Landis' new hip may last for many years – even if he continues to compete.

"A hip replacement used to have a life of 15 years or less, before it had to be replaced again, but now they are lasting up to 30 years. So depending on the age when it's done, a patient may never need another surgery," says Bronson.

Urbaniak is slightly more conservative, estimating around a 20- to 25-year lifespan for Landis' new hip, but says it's not so much the years, as what it is you do during that time that matters most.

"The relationship of activity to longevity is more important than age," he says.

But what about an active athlete like Landis? Doctors say that cycling won't put any undue stress on his new hip, so there's no fear of wearing it out too soon.

"If he was a triathelete -- and part of his training was running -- that would be a different story. But cycling does not cause pounding, and it's really only the pounding that has detrimental effects," says Bronson.

So maybe after the next win, Landis will be going to Disney World after all.


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