Dr. Gunnlaugson

Dr. Gunnlaugson

Dr. Gunnlaugson earned his Doctor of Medicine from the University of Manitoba. He attended medical school at the Memorial Hospital of New Foundland. He then completed his orthopaedic training at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia Canada. 

He is certified by the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery, a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of Canada and a member of the Canadian Orthopaedic Association, American Medical Association, Pennsylvania Medical Society, American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgery, and Cambria County Medical Society.

Dr. Gunnlaugson is the founding partner of Alleghenies Independent Physicians and has been practicing in Johnstown since 1993. During that time he has built an outstanding reputation for his total hip and total knee replacements. He is the leading physician in the Johnstown area for performing anterior hip replacements.

Dr. Gunnlaugson and his wife Hazel enjoy cooking, fishing, and reading. They also enjoy spending time with their “two fur babies.”

Anterior Hip Replacement

I find it very gratifying to offer anterior approach hip replacement surgery using a special table called the Hana table. There are very few of these tables in Western Pennsylvania and they significantly increase the ease of doing the procedure. The nice thing about the anterior approach is that it particularly involves no muscle damage and as a result patients recover function faster and have much less pain than the more standard lateral (from the side) of posterior (at the back) approaches. Prior to doing the anterior approach procedure I did the lateral approach and patients did well but struggled to regain strength and function. I have noticed a dramatic improvement with the anterior approach and, for some reason, patients also seem to have less peri-operative pain. A lot of patients are in the hospital for 24 hours, with most leaving within the first 48 hours. One of the nice features of the Hana table also is that it allows me to x-ray the hip during surgery which helps confirm the appropriate positions and sizes of the implants as well as leg lengths. To this date (November 30, 2012) I have done over 300 anterior approach procedures and continue to do between 2 and 4 procedures a week. As with any surgical procedure there are potential complications. In particular, infection and blood clots are concerns. Thankfully complications have been rare with this procedure.


I'm doing good, my knee is a little sore over the kneecap but I'm able to walk better and I don't have any pain. I try and go to the gym three times a week. I appreciate that my knee is doing so much better, and I thank you.

A few weeks ago I had hip replacement surgery. Dr. Gunnlaugson recommended an anterior approach procedure. I woke up from surgery and began a mental countdown, waiting for the pain to set in. It never really did. I maintained overnight with a low dose of pain medication and by the next day I stopped taking even that. I also discovered that I was able to get out of bed and move around by the next morning. That afternoon I was, with the assistance of a walker, able to walk the hallways. In just a few weeks I'm walking without a cane, am pain free and I'm so much more mobile than I was before my surgery. I am a firm believer now...no, I'm a disciple of this procedure and Dr. Gunnlaugson

Six years ago; while on a three day golfing trip, I began to experience pain in my left hip. I'd had minor discomfort before, but this was severe and by day three I wasn't able to make my normal golf swing. I spent the next six years learning all about pain medication and up until six months ago was able to function pretty well on eventually what was two 500mg Aleve per day.

At that point it was clear that I needed to fix the root cause problem. I started to do my research into what solutions were available, but more importantly who and that meant where could I count on a successful outcome. Fortunately, my research identified a local Johnstown option who had gained the overwhelming support and confidence of the medical community and a long list of former patients;

I met Dr. Gunnlaugson and we quickly determined that a total hip replacement was the best option. I had my operation just over 30 days ago and, although there is still rehab to do, I am pretty much back to my normal routine except for one thing and the joint pain in my left hip is totally gone.

I don't take pictures of myself very often, but I will tell you some things that happened to me after my surgery. After the surgery I finally knew again the joy again of being able to stand up without assistance. I can't explain the feeling of accomplishment I had when I walked up the steps into my church without any assistance or to walk across the yard to visit my son without someone on either side of me. I can now get into a car or truck; whatever, by myself and walk in the mall for hours where before I couldn't go for half an hour without someone at my elbow.

I am so grateful to be able to walk even run by myself. I thank the good Dr. for his medical skills that set me on this road. Without him, I would probably be in a wheelchair.

My heartfelt thanks and gratitude go out to the Dr. and medical staff, and the therapists for the help they have given me. I especially thank God for giving the Dr. the skills to fix me and probably thousands of others.

In November 2006, I received a total hip replacement on my right side. Dr. Gunnlaugson used the traditional method of hip replacement at that time. The surgery went well and the recovery time was about 6-7 weeks. Since it was my right hip I couldn't drive until after 4 weeks. I returned to work after 7 weeks, working 1/2 days for the first week at my office. I took me about 4 months to gain full strength in that leg. The surgery consisted of cutting the muscle that goes down the side of your leg which was very painful to heal. There were several limitations after surgery with this type of replacement. I couldn't cross my feet so I sat with a pillow between my legs for several weeks to avoid that. You couldn't bend over so daily household tasks were nearly impossible for a few weeks.

In November 2012, I received a total hip replacement using the anterior method on my left side. I was so pleased with this type of surgery. The incision is a bit different and done in such a way that the muscle was not cut. There was only one restricted movement to avoid and that was the golfers stance which is something that I wouldn't do ever so that didn't concern me. The pain was tolerable after a few days using Tylenol. I had the surgery Wednesday, went home Friday and stopped pain meds on Saturday evening when I switched to the Tylenol. I only used the walker for about a week at which time I switched to a cane. I was done using that in about 2 weeks. I returned to work 1/2 days on the 3rd week after surgery. I am now six weeks out of my surgery and I feel most of the strength back in that leg.

Dr. Gunnlaugson and his team are great at what they do. I was pleased with the results of both hip replacements. With that said, I would highly recommend the anterior approach overall because the recovery time was much shorter and the pain was much less. The end result was the same but the anterior approach was by far the better choice for me

At age 57, I had a lateral total hip replacement, April 15, 2000. I experienced a lot of pain, and had to use a walker for over three weeks and crutches for two weeks. It was five before I could use a cane. The therapy and recovery was long, and very painful.

When I was 68 years old, my left hip began hurting and because of my past experience I was hesitant to go through the procedure again until I heard of a new procedure that was less invasive, and made an appointment to see Dr. Brian Gunnlaugson. On September 26, 2011 I had my left hip replacement. I was sorry I had waited so long to have the second hip done. The first time I got out of bed, I knew I made the right decision. I had very little pain. I got out of the hospital two days later. I used a walker to go home and the next day I used a cane.

There is no comparison in the two procedures. The therapy and recovery was so much shorter and I had very little pain throughout my experience.