Diagnosis: Shoulder injuries
Treatment: Reverse shoulder replacement surgery
Throughout his career, Dr. Edwin “Ned” Brockenbrough, a vascular and thoracic surgeon, knew he needed a hobby that could complement his demanding on-call schedule.
He took to gardening, and the grounds surrounding his Hunts Point home—a place his family has lived for 50 years—show the meticulousness and care he’s put into it over the decades.
But the now retired, active 85-year-old has never been one to sit idle.
Family vacations took the Brockenbroughs to a beloved fishing resort in Alaska, where, in the summer of 2014, they returned for their 30th annual visit.
As the trip neared its end, Dr. Brockenbrough was aboard a small boat when it suddenly pitched and sent him shoulder-first into the boat’s hull.
It was a serious enough blow that Dr. Brockenbrough knew he’d need treatment, but knew it could wait until his return home.
JOINT REPLACEMENT SURGERY REPAIRS SHOULDER PAIN
Back in Washington, an X-ray revealed a complex fracture that needed to be stabilized by a sling and mended with plenty of rest.
But after a few months, the injury began bothering him more severely and an MRI showed damage to his rotator cuff with multiple fractures that did not heal.
Though he was hesitant to pursue surgery, Dr. Brockenbrough’s son John, an otolaryngologist at EvergreenHealth, referred him to Dr. Michael Codsi who is fellowship-trained in orthopedic shoulder surgery.
“He was living with a significant, complex injury that was limiting his daily life in ways that he may have not even noticed at the time,” Dr. Codsi explained.
“The combination of arthritis, shoulder blade fractures, and a tear in his rotator cuff tendon made him a good candidate for a specialized procedure that we do here at EvergreenHealth, providing a good chance of relieving his pain and restoring his strength for the long run.”
The solution was reverse shoulder replacement surgery. In a reverse replacement, highly skilled and specially trained surgeons repair the joint by swapping the position of the shoulder’s ball and socket joint after removing the areas of the bones damaged by arthritis.
Instead of the ball extending as the top portion of the arm bone – as it would in a typical shoulder – a reverse repair uses a prosthesis that attaches a new ball to the shoulder bone and creates a socket to replace the top of the arm bone.
“This relatively new procedure provides a treatment option to a segment of the population that previously didn’t have a viable long-term solution,” Dr. Codsi added.
Dr. Codsi is among the few specialists in the region who are trained in reverse replacements, which have been increasingly utilized over the last decade.
BACK TO AN ACTIVE LIFE
As for Dr. Brockenbrough – he couldn’t feel better.
He’s back to his regular exercise routine, enjoying his garden, and he has been able to return to Alaska, injury-free, for his family’s annual fishing trip.
“I may be 85," he smiles, "but thanks in part to this team, I just don’t feel like it!”