I have been in a wheelchair for the last year due to a broken hip that won't heal. I have a special condition called osteopetrosis that is the problem. I'm only 47 years old and I don't want to be in a wheelchair the rest of my life. Are there any new treatment ideas for this problem?
You do have a difficult situation. Osteopetrosis is a bone disease with dense but brittle bones. Fractures that don't heal are common. You didn't say what (if any) treatment has been tried.
Hip fractures are often treated with surgery to pin the bones together while they heal. Sometimes a more complicated operation called a femoral osteotomy is required to line the bones up and keep them in place.
When these measures fail, a joint replacement may be considered. There are only a dozen cases of joint replacement for osteopetrosis reported. Results are favorable. Patients are able to heal and have less pain. Some are able to walk without a limp or support. Others walk with a limp or need a walker or crutches to get around.
Long-term results show the implant is solid and stays in place. No fractures around the joint have been reported. Ask your surgeon about this possible treatment option.
Justin P. Strickland, MD and Daniel J. Berry, MD. Total Joint Arthroplasty in Patients with Osteopetrosis: A Report of 5 Cases and Review of the Literature. In The Journal of Arthroplasty. September 2005. Vol. 20. No. 6. Pp. 815-820.
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