Chicago – When Georgann Maurice and her husband Ray took a trip to Mexico this winter, they spent time walking along the beach and kayaking on the shores of the ocean. What may sound like a typical vacation to many travelers was an unexpected gift for the couple. Just three years earlier, Maurice underwent hip replacement surgery after experiencing significant pain in her hip that limited her activity. She developed an infection following the operation which left her fighting for her life and required the prosthetic hip be removed. Maurice spent five months in hospitals wondering how, or if, she would ever return to her normal routine. When she began to recover and regain her strength, the resident of Hammond, Ind., found her way to Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago where she sought help from Lalit Puri, MD, an orthopaedic surgeon with expertise in joint revision surgery. With his guidance and support, Maurice returned to the operating room to have hip revision surgery and start her journey back to an active life.
“Joint revision surgeries are more complex than the initial joint replacement because there is typically reduced bone and muscle mass, as well as a higher risk for complication,” explained Puri, who is an associate professor of orthopaedic surgery at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “Revision surgery is typically necessary when an artificial joint is no longer working properly or because of mechanical failure and normal wear and tear on the prosthesis over time. In Georgann’s case there was no joint because of the infection, but rather a temporary spacer that had to be removed and replaced with a full functioning prosthetic hip.”
The primary benefit of hip revision surgery is pain relief, but it also brings improved mobility and enhanced strength and coordination. Orthopaedic surgeons who perform these operations have extensive training in the surgical techniques and specialized tools and implants required for revision surgery.
“Dr. Puri helped me feel confident that I would be able to return to things I missed like working and traveling, or even something as simple as going to the grocery store, which had seemed impossible by that point,” said Maurice, who is 57 years-old. “I had been scared to put weight on the spacer, but he encouraged me to walk on it. He said that if I didn’t want to have another surgery, it was possible to live with the spacer, but it wouldn’t be as stable as an artificial hip. That wasn’t an option for me; I wasn’t going to go through the rest of my life using a walker or a wheelchair.”
While she struggled with the idea of another surgery, Maurice had faith in Puri and the team at Northwestern Memorial. “As scary as it was to think about going back into an operating room, I wanted to get back to my life,” said Maurice.
Extensive pre-operative planning is required for hip revision because of the complexity of the surgery. Puri began assembling a team of Northwestern Medicine® experts from various clinical areas to address Maurice’s complex medical issues. Her past experience put her at high risk for another infection and she had limited respiratory capacity after spending six weeks on a respirator and experiencing two collapsed lungs.
“Working with colleagues from hematology and infectious disease, careful planning and precautions were taken to make sure Georgann was healthy and ready for surgery,” said Puri. “As an academic medical center, we have the resources and experts necessary to work as a team to address each patient’s unique medical needs.”
After surgery, Maurice spent five days in the hospital before returning home to start her rehabilitation. She has since regained full mobility and is living an active life working as a hairdresser, walking her beagle and spending time with her husband and granddaughters. She also participates in aqua aerobics and has started Zumba dance classes.
“This all started with some hip pain that I thought was a pulled muscle. Then, a surgery that I was told was ‘routine as having a tooth pulled’ nearly killed me,” said Maurice. “I cry when I think about everything we went through and how far I’ve come. I can do anything now. I truly owe my life to Dr. Puri. It’s given me a new perspective; I make a point to do something nice every day.”
Hip replacement is a common surgery, with nearly 200,000 operations performed in the United States every year. Other joints, including knees, shoulders and elbows can also be replaced with similar procedures. With an aging population and a rising trend in patients needing joint replacement at a younger age, revision surgeries will become increasingly common.
“Joint replacement surgery is among the most important surgical advances of our time; these operations give patients an enhanced quality of life and return them to activity and mobility.” said Puri. “Although common, joint replacement is also complex and requires extensive rehabilitation. It’s important to carefully consider your options and find a surgeon who you are comfortable with to ensure you understand the road ahead.”
To learn more about joint replacement and revision surgery at Northwestern Memorial or find a physician, call 312-926-0779.