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Hip or spine surgery first?

a survey of treatment order for patients with concurrent degenerative hip and spinal disorders

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Patients may present with concurrent symptomatic osteoarthritis (OA) of the hip and degenerative disorders of the lumbar spine, with surgical treatment being indicated for both. Whether arthroplasty of the hip or spinal surgery should be performed first remains uncertain.

Materials and Methods

Clinical scenarios were devised for a survey asking the preferred order of surgery and the rationale for this decision for five fictional patients with both OA of the hip and degenerative lumbar disorders. These were symptomatic OA of the hip and: 1) lumbar spinal stenosis with neurological claudication; 2) lumbar degenerative spondylolisthesis with leg pain; 3) lumbar disc herniation with leg weakness; 4) lumbar scoliosis with back pain; and 5) thoracolumbar disc herniation with myelopathy. This survey was sent to 110 members of The Hip Society and 101 members of the Scoliosis Research Society. The choices of the surgeons were compared among scenarios and between surgical specialties using the chi-squared test. The free-text comments were analyzed using text-mining.


Responses were received from 51 hip surgeons (46%) and 37 spine surgeons (37%). The percentages of hip surgeons recommending ‘hip first’ differed significantly among scenarios: 59% for scenario 1; 73% for scenario 2; 47% for scenario 3; 47% for scenario 4; and 10% for scenario 5 (p < 0.001). The percentages of spine surgeons recommending ‘hip first’ were 49% for scenario 1; 70% for scenario 2; 19% for scenario 3; 78% for scenario 4; and 0% for scenario 5. There were significant differences between the groups for scenarios 3 (more hip surgeons recommended ‘hip first’; p = 0.012) and 4 (more hip surgeons recommended ‘spine first’; p = 0.006).


In patients with coexistent OA of the hip and degenerative disorders of the spine, the question of ‘hip or spinal surgery first’ elicits relatively consistent answers in some clinical scenarios, but remains controversial in others, even for experienced surgeons. The nature of neurological symptoms can influence surgeons’ decision-making.

Cite this article: Bone Joint J 2019;101-B(6 Supple B):37–44.

Correspondence should be sent to K. B. Wood; email:

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