Sheila Devi became the first person to undergo a wrist-joint transplantation in India after her wrist bone was destroyed by arthritis.
A five-member team led by orthopaedic surgeons Dr Vikas Gupta and Dr Ashok Rajgopal at Fortis Hospital Vasant Kunj implanted the artificial joint in a one-and-a-half-hour long surgery on April 30. It was a day-care surgery; 65-year-old Devi was admitted in the morning and discharged by the evening.
“Her wrist joint was substantially damaged. She had severe pain and restricted wrist movement because of arthritis. We replaced the damaged bones and the cartilage and implanted ceramic joint between the forearm and the wrist to give her a pain-free life,” said Dr Vikas Gupta, who conducted the surgery.
“By doing this wrist surgery, we have now covered the entire gamut of joints,” added Dr Rajgopal, director orthopedics at Fortis.
So far, shoulder, knee, hip, finger, elbow, ankle and toes have been transplanted in the country. “I haven’t heard of wrist-joint being replaced anywhere in the country before. This surgery falls in the rare category because of many conditions, including high cost,” said Dr Kamran Farooque, assistant professor of Orthopaedics at All India Institute of Medical Sciences Trauma Centre.“The implant can be done in accident cases as well,” said Dr Farooque.
Anyone who has damaged the wrist joint can undergo this surgery, but since it is rare, the joint has to be imported, which increases the cost from Rs 1 lakh to Rs 3 lakh.
The ceramic-on-ceramic implant — called osteo-integrable implant — is fitted into the bone without cement and the bone gradually grows on it, locking it in place. It has a life of 10-15 years, after which it has to be replaced. “As this was a standalone implant, there were some problems in importing it. But the family was so determined and supportive that everything fell into place,” said Dr Gupta.
Sheila Devi had been suffering from arthritis for 15 years and had tried all kinds of medications and procedures, before settling on surgery in 2007. “I knew I would be the first one to undergo this kind of surgery, but I had faith in the doctors here. Now I’m ready to replace the wrist-joint of my right hand,” she said.