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Times of India
20 May 2011
By Karthikeyan Hemalatha
Chennai, India

When 63–year–old D Kathirvelu was taken to hospital with his right shoulder fractured for the second time, doctors were worried. They knew that the bones and joints couldn’t be reassembled. Even a total replacement of his shoulder with artificial balls and metals wasn’t possible as the muscle supporting the bone was also damaged.

New Technique Gives 2nd Chance to Broken Bones
That’s when doctors at the Soundarapandian Bone and Joint Clinic in Anna Nagar decided to do a reverse shoulder replacement surgery, where the components of the artificial joints are placed in reversed positions. Since it wasn’t a popular surgery in India, the hospital invited Sweden–based shoulder replacement surgeon Dr Anders Ekelund, a pioneer in the technique, to perform the surgery. After the Medical Council of India cleared the decks, Dr Ekelund flew down to Chennai to train doctors at the hospital.

Recently, Ekelund removed the chipped bones and the remains of the metal that were used to fix his previous fracture. He attached the metal ball to the triangular bones on the shoulder bone and another artificial socket to the bone extending from the shoulder to the elbow.

"Here we are reversing the anatomy. After the surgery, the ball is attached to the shoulder bone and the socket to the arm," said Dr S Sivamurugan, joint replacement surgeon. While the conventional shoulder replacement surgery costs Rs 1.4 lakh, a total replacement surgery costs Rs 2 lakh. Kathirvelu may not be as active as he was, but doctors say that he would be able to do many things on his own. Kathirvelu was diagnosed with Parkinsons in 2007. He also had arthritis.

In February last year, Kathirvelu slipped in his bathroom and fractured his bone. During an examination, doctors found a dislocation in his right shoulder. They used metal plates and screws to fix the bones. The second time, he fractured his right shoulder. "I thought I would never be able to use my hand again. Now, I want to get back home and carry on with my chores," said Kathirvelu.

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