Professor of Orthopaedics, Simon Frostick, from the Institute of Translational Medicine and the Royal Liverpool University Hospital, has helped develop a new prosthetic limb to help people who suffer with rheumatoid arthritis.
The prosthetic limb which has synthetic joints at both ends – was created by US company, Biomet, with Professor Frostick’s input.
It can replace the humerus (the upper arm bone) following arthritis, trauma or infection or when previous shoulder and elbow replacements have reached the end of their natural life.
Professor Frostick was able to use the prosthetic limb to replace the humerus of Irene Purnell, 61, from Huyton. Irene had suffered with rheumatoid arthritis since she was 17 and had been left struggling with everyday tasks and last year faced the possibility of having her right arm amputated.
After months of meticulous planning, Professor Frostick successfully performed the operation at Broadgreen Hospital.
He said: “Rheumatoid arthritis is a destructive disease that affects multiple joints. People who suffer with it can become severely disabled at a young age.
“Ms Purcell had an elbow replacement but complications meant she had to have the whole bone removed from elbow to shoulder. There were very few options available and the replacement humerus and joints were probably the only viable option, other than amputation of the whole arm.”
“You can lose a massive level of independence and personal esteem when you lose the use of an arm,” he added. “Irene hasn’t been able to use her arm for two years but two days after the operation she was bending her elbow.”
Irene said: “Before the operation, I couldn’t cook as it was too dangerous and carrying shopping had become a big problem. Since my humerus was replaced it was like switching a light off – the pain has gone. I am looking forward to doing normal everyday things without thinking twice.”
According to Professor Frostick, the new procedure can be used on patients with rheumatoid arthritis, bone tumours, bone infections or on those that have had their arms shattered in accidents, with designs built to match patients’ specifications.