Mystery Solved

I saw my new orthopedic surgeon yesterday.  He was recommended by a patient who  called him “brilliant.”  I trusted her.   Hips and labral tear repairs are his specialty.  I went with two MRI disks.  The first was an MRI, the second was an arthrogram (MRI with contrast dye).  Two of the radiology reports we had said there were no abnormalities found.  The third report (from one of those internet sites where you e-mail your images) said that I had torn something in the soft tissue near the joint.

When the doctor came in the room, he said that I have a medium sized labral tear.  He said it was on the first MRI (and the arthrogram), but missed by the three previous reports.  It happens with this diagnosis, frequently.  The tears shows up as a light spot where synovial (joint) fluid has leaked into a space.  The labrum is the suction cup around the hip ball and socket, where the head of the femur fits.  I was relieved to know that this pain that has been with me for three months has a fix.

He really earned my trust and impressed me with how much he knows and how many surgeries he has done.  This is his area of expertise.  Mike said it was his best doctor office experience ever.  He reminded me of the physicians I used to work with in the ICU.  The ones I’d want to take care of me or my family.  He relayed some anecdotes from studies of sheep and people and then patients.  I asked him what would happen if I didn’t have the surgery.  He said the labrum could tear further.  In several years, without the protection of the space between the hip ball and socket, I could be looking at a total hip replacement.

I’m having surgery in two weeks.  Or sooner if there is an opening.  Apparently, the start of the year is the slow time for these surgeries because of changes to some patients’ insurance coverage.  My surgery is called hip arthroscopy with labral repair, acetabuloplasty, femoroplasty, and capsulotomy.  To translate, I’m going to have the tear in my labrum sewn back together, three plastic screws will then secure it into place on the concave surface of my pelvis (acetabulum), then part of my femor (which has a little bump) will be ground off.

The recovery time is 6 weeks on crutches and no driving.  Speaking of crutches, I’m kind of excited to get my new pair that is more ergonomically designed.  I’ll also have a continuous passive motion machine that I have to use 6 to 8 hours a day for several weeks post-op.  And finally, I start physical therapy 2 weeks after the surgery.

The part of this I was really dreading was asking if I was going to be able to have the same active lifestyle.  Skiiing and running were in the front of my mind.  Yes!  He said that I’m an excellent candidate for this surgery and he expects me to be as good as new.  I’ll most likely be able to start running six months after this is all over.  And that was the best news I’ve heard in quite a while!

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