Bears' Ditka undergoes second hip replacement

March 13, 1992|By Chicago Tribune

CHICAGO -- Chicago Bears coach Mike Ditka underwent total replacement surgery on his left hip yesterday in Rush-Presbyterian St. Luke's Hospital eight years after undergoing a similar procedure for his right hip.

Dr. Mitchell Sheinkop performed the hour-and-20-minute operation. Sheinkop performed the original operation on the Bears' coach in 1984.

"It went very nicely," Sheinkop said. "The surgery was uneventful and uncomplicated. He was speaking with his wife afterward and wide awake."

The doctor said Ditka's condition was caused by arthritis not uncommon in football players. George Halas, who hired Ditka in 1982, also had both hips replaced.

"We could no longer control the pain," Sheinkop said at a news conference at the hospital. "This is a quality of life measure to allow a person to sleep through the night without medication."

Ditka, 52, had been limping more noticeably during the last few years and had planned for months to have the surgery. But the date caught the Bears by surprise. On Wednesday afternoon, the club reported Ditka would be attending next week's NFL owners meetings in Phoenix. Instead, he will be in traction for five to seven days and on crutches for six to eight weeks.

The doctor said Ditka could return to the golf course in three months, although Ditka has been known to follow a rehabilitation schedule of his own.

In 1984, Ditka said he played golf six weeks after his hip surgery. In 1988, Ditka suffered a heart attack and was back on the sidelines in 11 days, weeks before recommended. His cardiologist, Jay Alexander, was present yesterday during the hip operation but did not assist.

Ditka's condition is not avascular necrosis, the degenerative condition suffered by Bo Jackson of the White Sox after his 1990 football injury. But if Jackson needs a hip replacement, the procedure would be similar.

Although Sheinkop is not Jackson's physician and has not examined him, he said of hip replacements: "These joints are not made for professional athletics or recreational athletics. They're made to be able to allow patients to walk, swim, or play golf."

Ditka was "wide awake and kind of bored" soon after the surgery, Sheinkop said.

"This means he will not be able to have excuses for poor golf scores. I believe his golf score will drop in three months," the doctor said.

The doctor described the operation as putting a prosthesis into the bone marrow cavity and joining it to a cup in the pelvis.

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