Robert J. Zehr, MD
2659 Professional Cir # 1110
Naples, FL 34119
Monday - Friday 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM
About this Expert
About this Expert
Robert J. Zehr, MD is a board certified, fellowship trained orthopaedic surgeon and the founder of the Zehr Center for Orthopaedics, a private orthopaedic surgery practice located in Naples, FL.
He is one of fewer than 5% of orthopaedic surgeons nationwide who has mastered the direct anterior approach to hip replacement, a minimally invasive procedure that provides unique benefits to the patient:
more accurate placement
Education and Experience
Dr. Zehr has over 25 years of orthopaedic experience in complex joint reconstruction and rehabilitation. He received his doctorate from the St. Louis University School of Medicine. Following a prestigious fellowship in orthopaedic oncology at the University of Florida and his residency training at The Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Dr. Zehr came on staff at The Cleveland Clinic Foundation.
Transferred to Southwest Florida in 1998 to help develop the Cleveland Clinic Naples, Dr. Zehr distinguished himself as its Executive Director, Chief of Staff and Head of Orthopaedic Surgery while maintaining a full and thriving surgical practice. Following the abrupt departure of The Cleveland Clinic from the Naples area, Dr. Zehr founded the Zehr Center for Orthopaedics in 2007 in order to continue providing the residents of Southwest Florida world-class orthopaedic care.
Dr. Zehr has been recognized by his peers and patients alike with numerous awards, including:
Best Orthopedic Doctors in America, since 1998
Castle-Connolly Regional “Top Doctors,” since 2002
Consumer’s Research Council of America’s “America’s Top Orthopedists,” since 2002
Gulfshore Life’s “Top Doctors,” since 2004
Patients’ Choice Award, since 2009
Patients’ Choice “Most Compassionate Doctor,” since 2011
American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons - Fellow
American Board of Orthopaedic Surgeons - Diplomat
American Association of Hip and Knee Surgeons - Fellow
Collier County Medical Society
Connective Tissue Oncology Society
Florida Medical Association
Florida Orthopaedic Society
Musculoskeletal Tumor Society
University of Florida Alumni Association
International Symposium of Limb Salvage
“I suffer from kidney disease and am in its terminal stages. Two years ago the pain in my hip had become so severe that I could hardly walk. Golf became impossible. Dr. Zehr performed my hip operation using an anterior approach. I have a 4” scar and absolutely no problems. Six weeks later I was playing 18 holes of golf. Should you have a joint problem and it is curtailing the activities that you normally perform I would urge you to see Dr. Zehr and have it remedied. He is the best.”
Dr. Thomas J. Swift
"I was off the walker in one week, off the cane in two weeks and hitting golf balls by the end of week three! The whole process could not have been smoother and I have had no pain since the day of my surgery."
Dr. Roy Dagnall
“When severe pain began interfering with my golf and my nursing career, I chose Dr. Zehr as my surgeon for both of my hip replacements. Dr. Zehr always performs the latest techniques, is meticulous and educates his patients to know what to expect. I am often asked by my colleagues to recommend the best surgeon for their family or friends. Dr. Zehr is my #1 choice! Since my surgeries I am back to enjoying my life again!”
“I just had my second total knee replacement with Dr. Zehr and my recovery is even faster this time. The pain control is even better this time around and I am getting my motion back earlier. The use of my knees is critical in driving my car at high speeds and I wanted the best chance of regaining my lost knee function. This is why I have chosen Dr. Zehr again for my knee surgery. He is the best! I am looking forward to getting back on the race track where the thrill of speed is no longer diminished by the pain in my knees. My greatest thanks to Dr. Zehr and his team."
Professional Porsche Driver
"I have known Dr. Zehr since his days at the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland. I knew that when it came time for me to have my knee replacement, there could be no one else with the skill and experience to do the surgery in Southwest Florida. Although I am not as fast as I remember myself in my youth, I am fast enough--and have no pain in my knee. I am grateful to Dr. Zehr and his team for an excellent result."
"Being retired from the Cleveland Clinic, I had many options for my surgeon. Dr. Zehr replaced my left knee and I had such a great outcome that when it came time for my other knee surgery--why would I go to anyone else? I had my second knee surgery and was back to my volunteer job two weeks later. Dr. Zehr has the best technique and his team is magical."
“I had both knees replaced by Dr. Zehr about 4 years apart. Since my recent knee was done, I am able to walk with no pain. More importantly I am able to perform as a professional singer on my feet for hours at a time with no pain. I am truly grateful to Dr. Zehr for his skill giving me an excellent result. I recommend Dr. Zehr constantly to the many people who see how well I can walk and perform."
“Thanks to Dr. Zehr I was walking in the afternoon after my anterior hip replacement in the morningand was walking unaided one week later. This gave me back the ability to exercise in the gym to help keep my diabetes in control, pain free. I don't think about my hip as there isno painand there are no restrictions as I carry on my daily life. I highly recommend Dr. Zehr as he is the best in the area.”
"I searched the internet to find “the” surgeon to replace my arthritic knees. Dr. Robert Zehr was the one and only choice for me. His skills, counsel and approach to my orthopedic problems was superior. The concern, caring and professionalism of his staff was outstanding. There is no other choice in my mind than Dr. Zehr. Walking on the boardwalk with the waves breaking off the Atlantic Ocean are now part of my life again. I owe Dr. Zehr for giving me my life and pleasure back. Walking pain free for miles is his gift that keeps on giving. Thank you Dr. Zehr."
"I stopped running and playing tennis because of knee and hip pain. My pain increased to where I couldn’t sleep. As an engineer I spent hours researching my options and surgeons. That's when I found Dr. Zehr and his minimally invasive surgical procedures. First, my knee was replaced and in a short while I was back on the tennis court, but I still had hip pain that radiated down my leg -- so once again I researched my options. I found that there was a new anterior approach hip surgery that had many advantages over the traditional approach. Not many surgeons were doing this type of surgery in the US. but Dr. Zehr told me he did this type of procedure. I was walking without assistance in days after the surgery and back doing all my previous activities in 6 weeks. Needless to say I was delighted. The Staff at The Zehr Center could not have been more caring and friendly. I was back on the tennis court and for the first time in ten years playing singles tennis. No more swelling, ice and pain...thank you people of the Zehr Center and Dr Zehr."
“I put off my hip replacement and lived with the pain and diminished physical activities until one weekend I was finishing the 3 mile running phase of a sprint triathlon and... I stumbled and fell. Right then and there I made up my mind to get my hip replaced. You were as good as your word and you replaced my hip using the anterior hip approach. I am back to competing in triathlons. Thank you for listening to my hopes and desires and restoring me to my original level of activity. I just might be better now than before.”
Sue Ann Miller
"I suffered for ten plus years with hip pain, scared to have surgery. When I heard of the new approach to hip replacement and checked out the only orthopedist performing it, it was an easy decision to go ahead and do it...and I was glad I did. FIVE weeks later and no pain and back to tennis and golf, I was HAPPY to have had it done....what a wonderful miracle...thanks DOC !"
Russell V. Rosen
Owner -- Chardonnay Nouveau
"I limped around for 4 years delaying my hip replacement. Worst of all, I lost my golf swing. Couldn’t get over to my right side due to the pain!! Even my dog was bored with my pain...our long walks had been reduced to a few circles in the yard. Enter Dr. Zehr and his great staff. He made me feel as if I was his only patient. No question I asked was considered a dumb question. And most importantly, Dr. Zehr was one of very few with experience expertly doing the "anterior approach hip." I needn’t fly around the country looking for the right surgeon and hospitals with experience and modern equipment for this modern surgical approach.…they are right here in Naples. Thanks Dr. Zehr - you gave my retirement life back to me! My golf game returned a long time ago and my dog loves me again!"
Tom M. Sweeney
"I am 100% happy with my new hip. I give the credit for my quick recovery to your excellent method and my hard work. I have told everyone that this method is preferable, and they should tell anyone needing hip replacement about it. I've told friends from Western Michigan, where the anterior method is not available, that it is worth the trip down here to have you do it!"
"Dr. Zehr replaced a badly damaged and arthritic knee. The results were beyond any reasonable expectation. I've had over 15 surgeries on knee and shoulder at top places around the country and this is by far the best outcome. He is a gifted surgeon at the top of his game. I recommend him highly and without qualification."
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is so great about the direct anterior approach to hip replacement?
About 10 years ago a technique referred to as the “direct anterior approach” was pioneered by a renowned surgeon in California. At the same time he developed a special operating table to position the patient’s leg allowing easier access for the surgeon through a smaller incision. The muscles are simply pushed aside to reach the hip joint, instead of being cut. With the leg properly positioned by this special table, the implant procedure can be guided by a fluoroscopic x-ray, so the new hip is placed accurately. The procedure takes about 90 minutes. Patients are up walking within a few hours of surgery; their hospital stay is usually only 2 days. Frequently Tylenol is all the medication they need for the post-operative pain. So the procedure has four main benefits to patients:
more accurate placement
It’s a challenging technique that is not traditionally taught in orthopedic training programs; and it requires great skill to master. In fact, fewer than 5% of all hip surgeons routinely use the direct anterior approach. I have performed over 500 of them in the past 3 years.
2. Do I have to wait until I’m old before getting a joint replacement?
You may be surprised to learn that half of those joint replacements were performed on patients under the age of 65! The mid-50s is the time when arthritic joints start to become painful – and for many people – incapacitating.
Until a biologic cure or prevention is found for arthritis, we have no real way to slow down the progression of deterioration from this disease. In the early stages we manage the disease, and the pain, with anti-inflammatory medicines, cortisone injections, exercise and weight loss. These treatments should be used for as long as possible, but eventually they will fail to bring relief. If a patient is young at the onset of pain symptoms, they will still be young when treatments stop working. At that point a joint replacement can allow a patient to return to a pain-free, productive lifestyle.
We expect most joint replacements to last over 20 years – in 90% of patients under ordinary use patterns.
3. My knee started hurting a few weeks ago and I saw a surgeon who took an X-ray and told me I needed a knee replacement right away. Does arthritis treatment usually progress to the operating room so quickly?
Absolutely not! Arthritis is a chronic condition that takes many years, decades even, to evolve to its final stages. There are several treatments that should be explored before considering surgery: over the counter medications, prescription meds, cortisone injections, weight loss and an exercise routine. Even if the x-ray shows advanced arthritis – bone on bone – it does not mean surgery is necessary.
Surgeons like to operate! In the haste to see as many patients as possible, some busy surgeons rely on an X-ray to make recommendations without spending enough time with the patient to explore other treatment options.
You should get a second opinion from an experienced orthopedic surgeon. Even if the second opinion confirms the need for surgery, you will be able to approach the procedure with more confidence that it is the right course of action to take. Arthritis is not lethal, so you have time to seek other professional advice.
4. When can I get back to playing golf?
Whether it’s golf, tennis, running or simply walking around the block, most patients want to know – beforehand – how long it will be until they are able to resume their normal routine. At The Zehr Center for Orthopaedics we discuss the likely outcome of each individual patient’s surgery, as many factors contribute to a successful outcome. While it may take patients many months to fully recover following conventional hip replacement surgery, the anterior approach technique enables patients often to recover and return to activities such as golf, tennis, biking and of course distance walking in as short as four weeks.
5. What is this minimally invasive hip surgery I keep hearing about?
Minimally invasive hip replacement surgery has been popularized over the past decade when patient demand for less pain and faster recovery put pressure on both surgeons and implant manufacturers to develop better techniques. What has evolved are better implants and instruments which match better trained and understanding surgeons.
Historically, the vast majority of hip surgeons use a posterior (from the back) lateral approach to enter the hip joint during a replacementoperation. Over the recent years some of the surgeons have been able to reduce the surgical incision (typically 8-10” in length) and the detachment of surrounding musculature when performing a hip replacement surgery. The technique referred to as minimally invasive hip surgery implies a smaller skin incision (typically 3-4") and requires only a fraction of the muscle detachment usually required by most surgeons to gain access to the hip joint. Although much more challenging for the surgeon, the minimally invasive hip replacementtechnique results in far less post-operative pain and a much quicker rehabilitation and return to full activity.
Although the posterior lateral approach is still the standard approach used by most surgeons, it is one in which muscle is detached in the approach and then must be repaired after the implants are placed. Any muscle splitting or detachment increases the pain felt post-operatively and healing of this repair takes several weeks. In addition, a posterior approach to the hip has some intrinsic and increased risks of leg length discrepancy and dislocation that, although rare, is still a concern.
Dr. Zehr routinely uses the Direct Anterior Approach (from the front) which is atrue minimally invasive approachfor routine first time hip patients, but on occasion the posterior lateral minimally invasive technique can be best for a select patient. The typical patient is usually able to return to normal activities such as golf, biking, swimming, doubles tennis and long distance walking in just 4-6 weeks after minimally invasive hip surgery.