Success Stories

Patient from Yemen with serious injury gets a boost with bone reconstruction surgery

A complex bone grafting procedure done at Fortis Hospitals gives new lease of life to young Yemeni patient, who could not walk because of a bullet injury

For six months, young Mr. Ahmed Alwi was confined to the four walls of his house and the future looked bleak for him. Seriously injured in a gun fight, life seemed to have come to a grinding halt for the 28-year-old young man from Yemen, as his leg was badly wounded and he was not able to walk.

When treatment in his home country did not yield satisfactory results his family brought him all the way to Bangalore. A high advanced limb reconstruction surgery done by expert orthopaedic surgeons at Fortis Hospitals, Bannerghatta Road. Bangalore, India has finally put him on the road to recovery.            

THE INJURY

Ahmed Alwi had been involved in a fierce gun battle back in his home town and he was shot in his lower leg by many rounds of bullets, which severely damaged his tissues and limb bone rendering him immobile. He was given treatment in Yemen but the doctors there were not able to remove the pellets lodged deep in his bones and could not reconstruct the bone that he had lost when he was injured in the fight. His family was at wit’s end as they could not fathom how to help the young man so that he could stand on his own feet and get back to normal. The only solution seemed to be amputation of the lower leg, which would have been quite traumatic.  

That is when one of his friends who had been studying in Bangalore, asked him to come to India to seek treatment. The friend had undergone a major operation on his leg sometime ago at Fortis Hospitals in Bangalore and has found much relief, so he recommended that Alwi should also consult doctors at the hospital for his problem.

So Alwi travelled to India and consulted Dr .Narayan Hulse at Fortis, who conducted a detailed evaluation and recommended limb reconstruction through bone grafting surgery.

“The patient came to us with multiple pellets still stuck to his lower leg and he was unable to walk. There was also a lot of ammunition and gun powder still lodged inside his leg. He had lost a lot of tissues and about 15cm of bone because of the injury and since it had happened six months ago, his condition had worsened. We made a diagnosis of segmental bone loss with retained foreign body and recommended reconstruction surgery to save his limb,” says Dr Narayan Hulse, Consultant Orthopaedic and Joint Replacement Surgeon at Fortis Hospitals.

THE TREATMENT

The 28-year-old was operated upon by a team of orthopaedic surgeons led by Dr Hulse who reconstructed the damaged lower limb through bone grafting procedure. Bone grafting is a surgical procedure that replaces missing bone in order to repair bone fractures that are extremely complex. Bone generally has the ability to regenerate completely but requires a very small fracture space or some sort of scaffold to do so.

The advent of microsurgery and its application to bone transfers has radically changed the treatment of complex lower limb injuries, allowing surgeons to reconstruct wide bone gaps with a positive  outcome, thus avoiding shortening of the limb or amputation.    

“The surgery involved reconstruction of the lower leg using massive bone graft and then stabilising the leg with certain external fitments that would hold the bone together till it healed completely. We used the patient’s own bone from the same leg called fibula and the iliac crest (bone around waist area). This helps to bridge the bone gap and strengthen the bone with the help of patient’s own bone. It was a highly complex and challenging surgery was took about four hours,” Dr Hulse explained.

The patient has recovered well and his wounds healed in 10 days. Now he is a happy man, as he was mobilised within four days. He will be able to walk normally in about three months when the grafted bone joins and consolidates with his limb bone.