Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine



My 92-year old Nana broke her hip rolling over in bed. She has dementia and doesn't seem to know her leg is broken. The doctor doesn't want to operate and repair the fracture. Does this seem right? Isn't it discrimination of some sort?


Hip fractures are common in the aging adult population. Even so, it isn't clear what the best treatment is for this problem. Most often, surgery of some kind is done. They may pin the broken bones together until healing takes place. Or they may give the patient a joint replacement. Sometimes only part of the joint needs to be replaced.

Older adults who aren't in pain and who don't walk may be treated differently. Surgery may be too risky because of age and health issues. It's the one time nonoperative treatment is considered a reasonable treatment option.

If her bones are fragile enough to break just moving in bed, the doctor may be thinking she won't tolerate major surgery to repair the break. You (or some family member) may want to make an appointment to discuss this more with her doctor.

William L. Healy, MD, and Richar Iorio, MD. Total Hip Arthroplasty. In Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research. December 2004. Vol. 429. Pp. 43-48.

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