Dr. Jane Lindsay experienced what it was like to be a patient, rather than a general medicine internist at UCSF Medical Center, where she has been taking care of patients since 2003.
"In many ways it was very reassuring, since I had an excellent experience. The staff and doctors were wonderful," says 38-year-old Lindsay, who underwent an arthroscopic bankart repair for her injured shoulder in August 2004.
Arthroscopic bankart repair surgery is performed on patients who suffer from repeated shoulder dislocations. The shoulder is like a ball and a socket that relies on ligaments and tendons to keep it in place. The stabilizing ligaments attach to the front of the shoulder socket by combining to create a labrum (kind of like a soft bumper or cushion), which resists dislocation. When a patient dislocates a shoulder, the labrum is separated from the edge of the socket, making the shoulder prone to repeat dislocations. This ligament separation is known as a labral or bankart lesion.
During an arthroscopic bankart repair procedure, tiny incisions are made in the front and back of the shoulder to allow access into the shoulder joint. An arthroscope -- a small video camera -- is used to look into the shoulder and small instruments are inserted into these incisions to perform the procedure. The surgeon then drills a few small holes into the edge of the bony socket and places anchors with sutures into these holes. The sutures are then arthroscopically tied around the torn labrum in order to reattach it to the socket. By reattaching the front "bumper," stability to the shoulder is restored.
As an avid water sports athlete, Lindsay first suffered a partial dislocation of her shoulder, in 2002 while windsurfing in the San Francisco Bay. She then totally dislocated her shoulder while diving through a wave as she was swimming in the ocean and later injured it again, while surfing. Finally, Lindsay fell down the stairs, dislocating her shoulder another time.
"The shoulder dislocations were painful and the main issue was that my shoulder was no longer stable enough to do a lot of the sports I enjoy if I didnt have it fixed," says Lindsay, who was treated by Dr. Christina Allen at the UCSF Medical Center's Sports Medicine Center.
Allen, who plays soccer in her spare time, specializes in treating knee and shoulder injuries, especially in female athletes. She also serves as the Orthopedic doctor for the women's soccer team at the University of California at Berkeley, the U.S. National Women's Soccer Team and the U.S. National Taekwondo Team. In addition, she has served as a volunteer doctor at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs.
"Jane had a very unstable shoulder which she couldn't trust to stay in place when she was in the water, which is pretty scary," explains Allen. "The surgery restored her shoulder stability and the physical therapy made her stronger and more aware of her shoulder mechanics, which is also important to shoulder stability.
After surgery, Lindsay's arm was in a sling and she was unable to use her shoulder for six weeks. She also had physical therapy for five months to help her recover. Now, she says she is extremely pleased with the results of her surgery and feeling fitter than ever. "I am back doing all of my activities, including windsurfing," says Lindsay. "I am even doing pull-ups now that my shoulder is healthy, which I've never really been able to do before."
"Jane is a great patient and did well from day one," adds Allen. "She was very motivated to do her exercises and physical therapy so she could get back to windsurfing. She had a tremendously positive attitude, which makes a huge difference in recovery."
Story written in July 2005.
Abby Sinnott is a freelance writer in San Francisco.