Nine-hour surgery helps fix amputee's shattered thigh

Mar 19, 2013, 02:06 IST | Naveen Nair

33-year-old driver with an amputated right leg and a right hip implant suffers another severe thigh fracture on the same leg; KEM doctors performed an intricate surgery to help him regain mobility through graft and implant

A driver, whose right leg had been amputated below the knee a couple of years ago, was admitted to the orthopedic ward of KEM hospital with a shattered right femur (thigh bone).

The fracture occurred in the thigh of the same leg which had been amputated below the knee in 2011, and which had also undergone a major hip replacement surgery the year after. Though doctors’ efforts have helped him back on his foot again with some aid, he has lost his will to carry on working as adriver.

Thrice bitten: (From left) Ramesh Vishwakarma who suffered from a shattered thigh bone is recuperating at KEM Hospital; the X-Ray that shows the shattered thigh bone before the corrective operation; X-Ray of the remade thigh bone after the operation

Accidents have dogged Ramesh Vishwakarma (33), a resident of Virar who works as a driver and is the sole breadwinner for his wife and two sons.

When he was three, a BEST bus ran over his legs, injuring both his feet. Following a minor surgery, doctors had declared that there would be no long-term damage. However, 28 years later, frequent pus formations in his right leg forced doctors to amputate the leg in July 2011.

Six months after the amputation, Vishwakarma got a prosthetic leg. “After receiving the prosthetic leg, I started walking gradually and began going back to work. I had no problems while driving and none of my customers noticed that I had suffered an amputation.”

But in May last year, Vishwakarma fell from a chair and hurt his hip badly. He suffered a major fracture to the right neck femur (hip joint). With a heavy swelling on his right hip, Ramesh approached KEM Hospital.

Dr Pradeep Bhosale, head of orthopedic department at the facility, conducted a successful surgery. As the entire hip joint had been fractured, doctors were required to conduct a bipolar hip arthroplasty, which is a complicated procedure. Following this surgery, Vishwakarma was able to walk normally using the prosthetic leg.

But his run-in with bad luck continued, and he fell from a chair in January this year, suffering another fracture on the same side. This time, the fall completely shattered his right femur (thigh bone). To add to complications, the bone that had shattered surrounded the earlier bipolar implant. According to doctors, his condition was known as ‘bag of bones’ and they had no hope of treating the problem. Though Vishwakarma was admitted to KEM on January 17, the surgery took place on March 13, as he did not have enough funds: he was running short of Rs 95,000 for the surgery.

Dr Bhosale said, “Treating the fracture was very complicated as there were several pieces of bone that needed to be joined. The second complication was the removal of the earlier bipolar prosthesis that had been fixed using cement. As the implant was made of titanium, it could have lasted for life but the bone around it was weak and had broken into pieces.”

Doctors at KEM conducted a nine-hour-long surgery in order to fix the femur. The earlier bipolar implant was removed and all the shattered pieces were joined together. They also used a bone graft from the bone bank at Tata Hospital. “This graft will gradually consolidate with the original bone and the leg will be back to normal,” said Dr Bhosale. Following the operation, Vishwakarma, who can now walk with support, said, “I have lost all my confidence after this incident and have decided not to drive any longer. I do not want to put the life of my customers at risk. I do not know how I will support my family after I get discharged.” 

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