From horseback riding in Alaska to swimming with the dolphins in Jamaica to touring the Outback of Australia, Laura Galbo is a woman on the go. Just three years ago, she was suffering with intractable pain in both hips. Ms. Galbo, 4' 1", had struggled for a number of years in pain and had reached a point where she could no longer function. Doctors at other institutions advised against hip replacement surgery due to her young age (45 at the time) and the complexity of her case. However, Ms. Galbo, a former educator with many interests and a passion for travel, refused to accept a future of pain and immobility.
“Laura’s level of deformity and her short stature presented a huge challenge,” says Douglas E. Padgett, MD, Chief of the Adult Reconstruction and Joint Replacement Division. Over the next three to four months, Dr. Padgett conferred with Philip D. Wilson, Jr., MD, Surgeon-in-Chief Emeritus; Timothy Wright, PhD, Director of Applied Biomechanics in Orthopedic Surgery; and Joseph Lipman, MS, Director of Device Development, to determine the best treatment plan for Ms. Galbo.
“Laura’s joint anatomy could not take a standard implant,” says Dr. Padgett. “She required a pencil-thin stem because the diameter of the canal of her femur was so small. This was about as unusual a custom implant as you’ll ever have.”
Mr. Lipman and Dr. Padgett used computer-aided design to create virtual blueprints of Ms. Galbo’s anatomy. “We can build 3D plastic models of specific anatomy for implant design in complex cases such as Laura’s or for whatever reason a model might be helpful to the surgeon,” says Mr. Lipman. “We can also do pre-operative planning with our software, where we can actually cut the model to simulate a surgical procedure.”
“Dr. Padgett was able to give me back quality of life,” says Ms. Galbo. “After my first hip was done, I visited my cousin Jim who said, ‘you look 10 years younger. Your face isn’t covered in pain anymore.’ Once my left hip was done, and I had no more pain, it was like the right hip was screaming, ‘me next, me next!’”
Ms. Galbo’s second hip replacement took place 16 months later.