Doctor Saves Woman’s Leg from Amputation

WNBC.com—March 17, 2006

Pat Bennett's femur, the bone that connects the hip to the knee, was shattered during a hip replacement surgery and that led to an infection. "I went to five different surgeons and I was told that it was a very, very risky surgery to go in and repair this femur and it probably would end up in an amputation," said Bennett. 

That's when she went to see Geoffrey Westrich, M.D., associate attending orthopaedic surgeon at Hospital for Special Surgery.

"Everyone said to her that she would require an amputation of the leg," said Westrich. "It wasn't just a standard type of amputation below the knee. This would have been an amputation at the hip level, which is quite significant and debilitating for her. She really would've had to be in a wheelchair for the rest of her life."

Bennett's case was rare and Westrich came up with an approach that hadn't been done before.

"My greatest concern was really that could we get rid of her infection and could we get her walking again?" said Westrich. "We basically took out her leg and put in a hip and a knee replacement and she still has the outside of her leg."

"This is the total femur replacement," said Westrich. "This is all metal and you can see there's different parts in what's called modules -- different pieces. It's really like an erector set that we put together in the operating room. Then this is part of the prosthesis that includes the knee replacement. So it's a hip replacement and a knee replacement but all connected in one piece."

Five months later, Bennett is pain free and back on her feet.

View an Internet version of the WNBC.com news segment.

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