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Grandmother Gets Four New Joints

Gail Florian describes herself as a “bionic woman” after her multiple joint replacements. “I’ve got two new knees and two new shoulders — now I’m working on getting a bionic brain,” she jokes. She says her surgeries are the result of normal wear and tear, combined with a family history of osteoarthritis, but there’s more history beyond that.

In 2001, Gail was hit by a car while walking, and her pelvis was broken in six places. Although she made a full recovery, her physicians told her that she could expect an early and widespread onset of arthritis as the result of her injuries, especially given her family history. She did well for more than a decade, but eventually had to have both her knees replaced within two months of each other at Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital in Winfield, Illinois.

Orthopaedic Surgeon David Mochel, MD, Medical Director, Northwestern Medicine Regional Medical Group Orthopaedics, performed both knee replacement surgeries, but when Gail’s left shoulder developed severe osteoarthritis, Dr. Mochel recommended that she see one of his orthopaedics colleagues. So she went back to Central DuPage Hospital to consult with Northwestern Medicine Regional Medical Group Orthopaedic Surgeon David Watt, MD.

Two Different Types of Shoulder Replacement

Dr. Watt says at first, he and Gail managed her condition with anti-inflammatory medications and cortisone shots. When her shoulder no longer responded to those treatments, they decided to proceed with a total shoulder arthroplasty, or replacement.

Within two years, Gail went back to Dr. Watt for more “rebuilding.” She was having pain and weakness in her right shoulder, but her situation was different than it had been for the left shoulder: X-rays and an MRI revealed not only osteoarthritis, but also a worn-out rotator cuff. This time, Dr. Watt performed a reverse total shoulder replacement, a procedure he has been performing since 2006. A reverse shoulder arthroplasty rearranges the anatomy and mechanics of the shoulder to stabilize the joint so that the deltoid muscle can lift the arm without the rotator cuff, essentially reversing the roles of the ball and socket mechanism of the shoulder.

After two days in the hospital and 20 rehabilitation sessions, Gail says, “Everything is really good. I have a 3-and-a-half-year-old grandson now, and I need to be able to move and pick him up. I am so grateful to be pain-free — and alive and well after my accident.”

“It was a pleasure to take care of Gail,” says Dr. Watt. “It’s gratifying to be able to help people improve their shoulder function and provide pain relief.”

Joint Replacement Surgery

David H. Watt, MD
David H. Watt, MD
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  • Secondary Specialty Orthopaedic Sports Medicine
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