Mary Frances' Wrist Reconstruction SurgeryMay 28, 2019
This December Mary Frances Felder, 25, was in a hospital bed for a complex forearm surgery, but as a fourth grader in gymnastics class all she wanted was to complete a back hand spring.
Unfortunately, her attempt ended with a broken arm and a pain that would resurface years later.
“The pain comes and goes, but is noticeable because I am left handed and the injury was in my left arm,” she said.
The pain led her to Dr. Ekkehard Bonatz, orthopedic surgeon with Southlake Orthopaedics affiliated with Brookwood Baptist Medical Center. After much testing and consultations, Dr. Bonatz would later determine that Mary Frances would need a complex reconstruction of the forearm using 3D models of her bone structure.
Using a special customized technology, Dr. Bonatz was able to complete a “Radial and Ulnar Shortening Procedure,” on Dec. 6 at Brookwood Baptist. The technology created custom bone models to level her forearm bones and correct the problem of wrist joint dislocation she was experiencing, allowing her bones to match the other side.
“We obtained X-rays of both forearms and special CT scans of both forearms. The digital data from the CT scans are sent to a company, which processes them into bone models, instrument tools, and templates so correct bone cuts can be made at surgery,” Dr. Bonatz shared.
When Mary Frances’ pain resurfaced, she thought it was due to a wreck she experienced in college, yet it was later she learned her childhood injury was the cause.
“Her forearm was fractured a long time ago and had grown into a very subtle deformity. Rather than just one forearm bone, both bones need to be reshaped,” Dr. Bonatz said.
The morning of the surgery, Dr. Bonatz talked with Mary Frances. She said his personality helped keep both her and her mother in great spirits.
“He asked me was I ready? And I told him, ‘yes’ and then I asked him the same question and he responded with a chuckle, ‘I was born ready.’ It was so nice he was making us laugh,” she said.
Her mom, Michelle Felder, felt Dr. Bonatz and the team at Brookwood explained everything very thoroughly so she and her daughter would know what to expect.
The technology Dr. Bonatz used created models completely custom to Mary Frances and therefore, it will allow her a complete change in the pain she is currently experiencing.
“She should experience an improvement in her wrist function, with less pain and decreased tendency for her wrist to dislocate. Doing the procedure in early adult life minimizes the chance of degenerative arthritis,” Dr. Bonatz said.
He added he was more than confident his team would be able to execute this type of specialized surgery, despite it being unique in nature.
“Our orthopedic team is knowledgeable, professional, and willing to train and work with new, contemporary orthopedic procedures,” he said.
Mary Frances is originally from Montgomery, but landed in Birmingham as a graduate student at UAB. She graduated in August 2018 and passed her credentialing test just weeks ago to be a registered dietitian. Mary Frances will continue with some rehabilitation therapy and resume working at Baptist South Hospital in Montgomery.
“I can tell Dr. Bonatz really cares. He has explained everything to me and my parents and made us feel so comfortable,” Mary Frances said. “When I needed to know something, it wasn’t a nurse that called. He would call himself and give me updates.”