PHILADELPHIA, Penn. (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Hip and knee replacements
have changed the way many spend their golden years. New wrists may do the
same. Now surgeons are successfully replacing joints that were at one time
too complicated to remove. Some baby boomers are benefiting from a surgery
that replaces the entire wrist.
When James Murphy stashed his skiis at the end of the season, he was afraid
they'd be in storage for good. The avid sportsman tackled some of America's
toughest slopes, but rheumatoid arthritis took its toll. Murphy suffered
constant pain and stiffness in his wrists.
"It was difficult, because I only had two fingers that I could hold on to
the pole with," Murphy said. "I couldn't plant as much as I wanted to."
In the past, the best way to relieve pain was to fuse bones together --
limiting mobility. Now orthopedic specialists replace the entire wrist --
much more complicated than a hip or knee replacement.
"There are eight bones in the wrist," Randall Culp, M.D., a hand and wrist
specialist at the Philadelphia Hand Center at Methodist Hospital in
Philadelphia, Penn., told Ivanhoe. "If you add that to the two forearm
bones, you're talking about ten bones that need replacement."
Surgeons make an incision in the back of the wrist. They implant metal parts
to support the forearm and fingers, and a plastic spacer holds the joint
together and allows movement.
"We're also using what we call porous in-growth," Dr. Culp said. "We don't
use bone cement anymore. This is all done through your own bone growing into
Murphy needed weeks of physical therapy to regain strength, but the pain was
gone immediately after surgery.
"I'm gonna feel a whole lot better by the time ski season comes around," he
Doctors say the wrist prosthesis is a newer one, so they are still studying
how long it will last. They say most patients will do well for at least 10
FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT:
Thomas Jefferson University Hospital