Double hip replacement
Active young adult finds pain relief, answers at Mayo
Brooke Hayes was still years away from her 30th birthday. But she felt like she was approaching her 80th.
Debilitating hip pain had caused Hayes to miss out on activities with friends and family. It had forced her to cut back her hours at work. Eventually, the pain became so severe that she had to brace herself against walls to walk. At home, she'd sink to her knees and crawl up the stairs.
"It was awful," says Hayes. "I've always been extremely active. I love to travel, swim, go to concerts. But I couldn't do any of that. I tried everything to get rid of the pain — physical therapy, epidural injections, yoga. Nothing worked. I finally thought, 'I'm 27 years old. I'm not giving up on my life.'"
Instead, she began searching for a surgeon to replace her hips.
A unique and challenging case
Though hip replacements are common, Hayes' case was anything but typical. Her pain was a result of a rare bone growth disorder called spondyloepiphyseal dysplasia congenita. She was born with the condition, which results in short stature (dwarfism) and skeletal abnormalities.
Because of her small size — she is 3 feet, 10.5 inches tall — normal implants would be too large for her body.
In addition, a previous surgery several years earlier had changed the alignment of her thighbones. Doctors had hoped this would improve her function. While the surgery did give her some improvement for a few years, the improvements were short-lived and her pain became disabling.
For two years, Hayes and her family traveled the country, interviewing specialists.
"No one wanted to do surgery because of the complexity of my anatomy," says Hayes. "It took a long time to find someone who was willing and who we had confidence in."
Eventually, Hayes was referred to Mark Spangehl, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon at Mayo Clinic in Phoenix and Scottsdale, Arizona. She arrived at the meeting armed with the same list of 30 questions she'd asked every other surgeon. For the first time, she left with answers that sounded realistic.
"Dr. Spangehl was honest and straightforward. He didn't sugarcoat things," says Hayes. "He was also thinking outside the box about how to deal with the problems created by my anatomy. We walked out of Mayo feeling great because we knew Dr. Spangehl was the one."
"Brooke Hayes was a once-in-a-lifetime case," says Dr. Spangehl. "Her congenital condition made her case challenging, and the previous surgery, causing more deformity of the thigh bones, added an additional layer of complexity."
Creating a model of Brooke's anatomy before surgery
Dr. Spangehl sent Hayes' computerized tomography (CT) scans to an implant manufacturer to have models made of her femurs, hips and pelvis. The models allowed Dr. Spangehl and his colleague, Christopher Beauchamp, M.D., to initially perform surgery on the models.
"We rehearsed Hayes' surgery on the models before the actual procedure to determine how best to correct her anatomy and reconstruct her hips," says Dr. Spangehl. Custom implants were also created that were scaled to fit her body.
"Because this was a rare and difficult case, it was beneficial to have more than one person looking at the procedure," says Dr. Spangehl. "At Mayo, it's very easy for us to draw on each other's experience and expertise."
In March 2010, Dr. Spangehl and Dr. Beauchamp replaced Hayes' left hip. Five months later, the surgeons replaced her right hip. The results were more than Hayes had dared to hope for.
"A dream come true"
This past spring, approximately a year after her surgery, Hayes traveled to the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, taking in the music of Jimmy Buffett, Arcade Fire, The Strokes, Lauryn Hill, Better Than Ezra and other artists.
"Mayo Clinic gave me back my life," says Hayes. "They gave me legs and hips. They gave me a chance to travel, a chance to be involved with my friends and family again.
"This surgery was a dream come true for me. I have absolutely no pain.
"My dad was my first hero," she says. "Dr. Spangehl is my second."
Giving back to Mayo Clinic
Today, Hayes' life looks much as it did before she was sidelined by pain. But one thing has changed. She recently moved from her hometown of Ormond Beach, Fla., to begin a new job at Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Fla.
"Mayo Clinic gave so much to me, and I wanted to give something back," says Hayes, who had worked in health care finance prior to her surgery. "I wasn't in a position to donate to Mayo, and I lived too far away to volunteer. So I decided that I was going to work there."
In her new position, Hayes helps people receiving kidney and pancreas transplants navigate the insurance process. She says she still feels "giddy" about her new position.
"Mayo is part of me now"
"I feel so proud and honored to work at Mayo," she says. "Mayo Clinic gave me the chance to again live the way I was supposed to.
"Mayo is part of me now."