Identical twin surgeons blazing unique trails at Coastal Orthopedics in Bradenton

Identical twin orthopedic surgeons are making an impact in Manatee County

Drs. Arthur and Alan Valadie have built their reputations at Coastal Orthopedics near Blake Medical Center. Alan specializes in knee and hip replacement while Arthur's field is sports medicine surgery especially shoulders.
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Drs. Arthur and Alan Valadie have built their reputations at Coastal Orthopedics near Blake Medical Center. Alan specializes in knee and hip replacement while Arthur's field is sports medicine surgery especially shoulders.

MANATEE -- Bradenton's Dr. Alan Valadie walked into a patient evaluation room recently at Coastal Orthopedics in Bradenton to visit a 62-year-old woman patient who, exactly a week earlier, had gotten her left hip replaced by Valadie.

When the woman came to see Valadie before surgery, she was using a walker and told him she was in agony from bone-on-bone arthritis of the hip, Valadie said.

X-rays and physical exams later confirmed the woman's suspicion, Valadie said.

When Valadie walked into the evaluation room a week later, the woman was smiling, he said.

"For a couple of years she wasn't able to exercise or walk any distance at all," Valadie said. "A week after surgery, she came in under her own power. She told me she had used a walker for a day after the surgery, then a cane for three days and now nothing. She was thrilled. She will be able to play doubles tennis, walk, hike and swim. We are able to get her back to all activities except repetitive activities like running."

As for the surgery itself, Valadie saw exactly what he expected when he made his incision in the hip area, he said.

"Her cartilage, which is a shock absorber, was completely worn away," Valadie said.

What is remarkable about what Dr. Valadie did in this case and what he is doing for hundreds of other knee and hip replacement patients is that this woman got to go home four hours after the surgery, he said.

"We did surgery at 8 a.m., she was out of surgery by 9:30 a.m. and home by noon," Valadie said.

Knee and hip replacement surgery used to require five days of hospitalization, said Valadie, whose practice is 99 percent knee and hip replacement.

But now, with new minimally invasive surgical techniques, these major joint replacements have been reduced to out-patient procedures at Coastal's own surgery center or a local hospital.

"She came in at about 7 a.m. and was put to sleep prior to surgery," Valadie said. "I made just a four or five-inch incision. We use what is called a 'muscle sparing' approach. Surgery took 75 minutes. We anchored a ceramic hip ball joint to her thigh-bone with a titanium stem. It should last 20 to 30 years. The new hip is not better than what God gave her, but we are removing an arthritic joint and taking away her pain."

Twin innovators

If Dr. Alan Valadie, who specializes in hips and knees, had a question about how to repair the woman's hip, a man who looks just like him working in the same Coastal Orthopedics building at 6015 Pointe West Blvd., a block south of Blake Medical Center in Bradenton, would have been happy to give a consult.

Dr. Alan Valadie's identical twin brother, Dr. Arthur Valadie, also is a 50-year-old Coastal Orthopedic surgeon whose specialty is sports medicine and shoulder surgery. The two often swap ideas and consult. The staff at Coastal, in order to not go mad, call them "Doctor Alan and Doctor Arthur."

Dr. Alan has worked at Coastal for 19 years and Dr. Arthur has worked there for 18 years,

"Alan is focusing on how we can provide even better hip and knee replacement with even faster recovery and even lower costs," Dr. Arthur said.

Says Dr. Alan of his brother:

"Arthur's area is the overall business of orthopedic health care. He is president of our group and always is thinking about things like, 'How do we provide high value health care in a time of cost restraints and how can independent practices stay independent and thrive.'"

Growing up in Tampa, the twins were in the same class from first to seventh grade. From eighth grade through high school at Jesuit High School, they were in different classes, but after high school graduation, they went to Florida State University together.

"When they went to FSU they decided it was time to try out new roommates," Phyllis Valadie, the boys' mother, said last week. "That lasted one semester. They said, 'Mom, we already know everything about each other so it's easier to live together.' "

The boys have been each other's best friend from their birth, their mother said.

"I'm Catholic but when it comes to talking about my boys I'm a Jewish mother," Phyllis Valadie said. "I'm so proud of them. I could talk forever. They are wonderful guys. And it is true, identical twins are fascinating, My boys are very identical."

Like many identical twins, the boys can finish each other sentences, their mother said.

Sometimes they come to work wearing identical clothes even though they don't check with each other, their colleagues said.

The twins' parents, Phyllis and Art, live in River Strand in East Manatee. Art Valadie, 74, is a doctor also, a retired optometrist.

"If Arthur would break something when they were little and I said, 'Arthur, don't do that again,' Alan would come to his defense, saying, 'But mom?' Phyllis Valadie said. "They defended each other."

The boys were in the spotlight from the moment they were born from people asking questions about them, staring at them in the baby carriage. But the boys also have a sister who is 14 months older. Rene Howery is also successful. She is a middle school math teacher in New Port Richey.

"People were always saying how cute the boys were," Phyllis Valadie said. "I always let everyone know the boys have a sister, too. I wanted her to feel part of the family unit."

But despite the closeness, there has always been a competitive streak in them both, especially concerning each other, their mother said.

"I never wanted my brother to show me up in sports or academics," said Dr. Alan, who played football and swam in high school. "Our grade point averages were just a couple hundredths of a point different, but Arthur beat me in college and high school by that slim margin."

But Dr. Arthur is quick to add that he didn't "win" on all counts.

"Alan sailed through organic chemistry, and I struggled," Dr. Arthur said. "It was my only 'B' in college."

The pair stuck together in medical school, attending the University of Florida where they had their first two years of classes together before clinical rotations. They were roommates in Gainesville, too, and they played on the same intramural football team and studied in the same group.

After UF, Dr. Arthur completed his residency at Emory University and then a fellowship in orthopedic sports medicine at the Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic in Los Angeles. Dr. Alan completed his orthopedic surgery residency at the Carolinas Medical Center Department of Orthopaedic Surgery.

Fun twin facts

When Dr. Alan was in his residency in Charlotte, N.C. his then girlfriend introduced him to her girlfriend who quipped, "Is there another one like him?" Dr. Alan's then girlfriend said, "Actually, there is."

The girlfriend's friend from North Carolina, Kyra, was introduced to Dr. Arthur and they ended up getting married. Dr. Alan ended up marrying his child sweetheart, Sherri Melindi, who went to third grade with him in Tampa.

The staff at Coastal doesn't get confused between the two doctors' appearance. "I can tell them apart," said Coastal staffer Stephanie Tennell. "They have different hair. They have different demeanors. Dr. Alan is very serious where Dr. Arthur is serious, but a little more funny."

Dr. Arthur, who is two minutes older, thinks Dr. Alan is the more flamboyant of the two. "Alan dresses nicer and is more photogenic," Dr. Arthur said. Dr. Arthur said if there is ever a movie made of their lives, Dr. Alan would play both parts.

To help their patients, the twins stagger their schedules in the office. "If Alan is doing surgery, I am in the office and vice versa," Dr. Arthur said.

The twins each have three children and in both cases the children are two boys and a girl.

Dr. Arthur and Kyra have Luke, 16, Lance, 11 and Madeline, 17. Dr. Alan and Sherri have Mitchell, 17, Alex, 15 and Camille, 12. So far, Mitchell is the one who wants to be a doctor, the twins said.

Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7072 or contact him via Twitter@RichardDymond.