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In her early 30s, Shannon Grose developed agonizing pain in her left hip. She grew discouraged as she was referred from doctor to doctor, all telling her the same thing – she was too young for a hip replacement.
“I was frustrated and depressed,” Shannon said. “All the doctors saw I needed a hip replacement, but nobody would do anything because of my age.”
It took Shannon everything she had to make it through each 8-hour work day, standing on her feet on the factory floor. Once she made it through her shift, she simply went home and cried. She could no longer run, hike or take bike rides. For seven years, Shannon said, she lived each day in agony.
Shannon finally had enough and started searching for an orthopedic surgeon willing to help her. One day an ad for Dr. Amar Mutnal, an affiliated surgeon of the Spine and Orthopedic Institute at St. Vincent Charity Medical Center, popped up on Facebook and something inside urged her to call for an appointment. That moment marked the beginning of Shannon taking her life back.
“As soon as I met him, I knew that seeing that ad was meant to be,” Shannon said. “He actually listened and cared about the pain I was in. He didn’t care about my age. He cared about my quality of life.”
As a surgeon, Dr. Mutnal does not adhere to the long-held theory that patients should wait for a joint replacement until their 60s for fear of needing a second replacement later in life.
“What is a young patient like Shannon to do? Is she supposed to suffer through 20 years of the prime of her life unable to walk or do things that make life enjoyable?” Dr. Mutnal asked. “I work with each patient to assess their individual situation and determine what makes the most sense for his or her quality of life, regardless of age. I make sure he or she fully understands the risks and benefits of surgery as well.”
Dr. Mutnal was also the first in Shannon’s long line of doctors that actually explained to her the reason her hip joint failed. The degeneration in her hip was caused by hip dysplasia, a congenital malformation of the hip joint that often leads to early arthritis. Hip dysplasia, most commonly seen in first-born females, is the root cause of 5 to 10 percent of all hip replacements.
Shannon’s hip dysplasia and the severity of the damage in the joint were major factors in Dr. Mutnal’s recommendation for her to undergo the replacement at her young age of 41, rather than her waiting another 20 years.
“With hip dysplasia, there is a certain point where you’ve waited too long,” Dr. Mutnal said. “For Shannon, the bone loss she experienced was only going to get worse. Waiting too long can mean a more complicated surgery due to excessive bone loss, in addition to the abnormal anatomy seen in hip dysplasia.”
Dr. Mutnal employed his specialized approach to total hip replacement, which combines the latest in surgical techniques: an anterior muscle-sparing, minimally invasive approach, with surgical digital templating and intra-operative x-ray to guide the procedure real-time. Shannon said after surgery she was surprised at how great she felt.
“The day of the surgery, when Dr. Mutnal asked me to get out of bed and walk, I cried. I thought it was going to hurt,” Shannon said. “But, when I did get up, it was instant relief. It felt so much better – nothing like the pain I felt before.” Like virtually all of Dr. Mutnal’s anterior hip patients, Shannon was safely discharged home the next day.
After surgery, Shannon found she never needed to use a cane to walk and quickly got back to the hiking, running and biking she had given up due to pain.
“Everyone at St. Vincent was wonderful and I praise Dr. Mutnal to all the people I work with,” Shannon said. “I always tell people if they ever need to see a knee or hip doctor, go see Dr. Mutnal. He didn’t care how old I was, just how he could make my life better. That made a world of difference to me.”
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