Patient Stories

Back on Skis After Ankle Replacement Surgery

David Kearing
David Kearing, MD battled for years with post-traumatic ankle arthritis caused by sports-related ankle sprains. His ankle pain affected his home and work life. 
“On vacation I could not walk on the beach with my family and as an ER physician, I needed to be able to move around, and I was just hobbling.”
Ultimately, David’s joint deteriorated to the point that he could no longer tolerate the pain. David sought several opinions from foot and ankle specialists. Each recommended ankle fusion surgery, which would eliminate his pain but limit his mobility. David knew this would limit his active life. He sought care from Paul Cooper, MD, who recommended ankle replacement using the STAR™ device. Scandinavian Total Ankle Replacement (STAR), a three piece device moves much like a natural ankle. Dr. Cooper performed David’s surgery and he was out of the hospital in one day and able to walk within two weeks. Three months later, he was on skis.

Delicate Neck Surgery Preserves Range of Motion

Dr. Kalantar and Jon AlberstadtJon Alberstadt barely covered a block of his typical four-mile run before it hit him: he couldn’t continue without falling. “It was scary. I was used to running or biking every day, but [now] I was scuffing my feet, losing my balance, tripping.” Jon had severe cervical spinal stenosis – a narrowing of the canal that separates the nerves in the spinal cord from the surrounding vertebrae that make up the bony spinal column. Herniated discs worsened his condition. The combination was squeezing his spinal cord, affecting the nerves that controlled his extremities.
“He had the classic telltale symptoms,” Dr. Kalantar says. “In addition to numbness and lack of balance, Jon was having trouble grasping things, buttoning shirts and using a pen.”
Since Jon was an avid snowboarder, Dr. Kalantar recommended a less invasive option: Laminoplasty. Laminoplasty is a surgical procedure for treating spinal stenosis by relieving pressure on the spinal cord. Since no bone is removed, fusion is not necessary and range of motion can be preserved. The day after the hospital discharge Jon started taking two-mile walks; three months later, he was cleared for activities at the gym. He is expected to be back snowboarding in no time.

Shoulder Replacement Surgery – A Family Affair

Frank Ferney and his aunt, Virginia
When Frank decided to seek care from Brent Wiesel, MD, his shoulders were in bad shape. “However, his symptoms were worse on the left side, so we started there,” says Dr. Wiesel.

Incredibly, despite the severity of Frank’s symptoms, he was back on the golf course for an annual trip to South Carolina a mere two months following his surgery. “I wasn’t 100 percent, but I could play a short round. That trip was important to me,” he says.

Next up was Aunt Virginia, who suffered from shoulder pain so badly that the cooking enthusiast could barely eat, let alone cook. Some surgeons will hesitate to undertake this kind of surgery when the patient is considered “too old.” Dr. Wiesel did not find Virginia’s age a stumbling block. After their surgeries, both Frank and Virginia received physical therapy and wore slings for six weeks.

“Shoulder replacement surgery has one of the quicker recoveries for joint replacements,” says Dr. Wiesel. “Although most people regain full function after about four months,” he says, “patients continue to improve for about a year and a half. Immediately, though, their pain is improved.”

Today, both Virginia and Frank are back. Back to cooking, back to golfing.

Revolutionary Approach to Hip Replacement Frees Patient from a Long Recovery

Rita KlineRita Kline, in town for the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) annual conference, spent Independence Day watching the fireworks from a bed at Georgetown University Hospital. It wasn’t the Fourth of July holiday she had planned; but then again, neither was the fall that landed her in the hospital with a broken hip. While crossing the street near DAR headquarters a few days earlier, Rita lost her footing on a rough spot in the road, tumbling to the pavement. Paramedics wanted to take her to the nearest hospital, but the former resident of Washington, DC, insisted upon going to Georgetown.
As it turns out, it was also the best choice she could have made. That’s because of the expertise, experience and judgment of the orthopedic surgeon who treated her, Mark W. Zawadsky, MD. Instead of just repairing her broken bones, Dr. Zawadsky performed a minimally invasive anterior total hip replacement that would both fix her current problem and avoid another major operation in the future. The end result is less pain, promoting a shorter hospital stay, faster recovery and earlier return to mobility.

 Less Invasive Spinal Surgery Relieves Lifelong Pain

Gavin Helf

An assignment in Iraq is fraught with danger. But it wasn’t the fear of a roadside bomb or incoming mortars that most interfered with Gavin Helf’s work. He shook at the prospect of strapping on his personal protection equipment. Donning his flak jacket and helmet every time he traveled outside the Green Zone was excruciating.

“The back pain I’d suffered for years would flare up under the heavy load of protective equipment,” Gavin remembers.

That March, Gavin sought assistance from MedStar Orthopaedist and Spine Expert Seyed Babak “Bobby” Kalantar, MD. “An MRI showed a severe collapse of a disc in his lower back between the L3 and L4 vertebrae,” Dr. Kalantar explains. “The degeneration of that disc had caused his spine to curve. Bone was pressing on nerves causing severe pain.”

Rather than cut through all the muscles in the back to get to the spine, in this procedure surgeons make a small 2-inch incision at the patient’s side. “And we make small ‘poke holes’ in the back for the surgical instruments to reach the treatment site. Using a real-time image as a guide, we place a small synthetic cage at the location of the degenerated disc,” Dr. Kalantar says.

“It serves as a kind of scaffold that will hold new bone that the body produces over time. Because we’re fusing the spine at a single area, patients don’t have mobility problems after surgery. In fact, many patients, like Mr. Gavin, move normally for the first time in years.”

Now Gavin says he is positively evangelical about the procedure, telling anyone he knows who has persistent back pain to go to MedStar Georgetown. “Dr. Kalantar was fantastic, and the care at the hospital was great. And at my six-month checkup, for the first time in my life my spine looked absolutely normal.”

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Phone: 202-295-0549