On July 31st, 2014 at 8:14 am, Dr. Richard Buch began a right total Humerus replacement on a 78 year-old male, the first surgery of its kind EVER to be performed in the United States. This involved replacing the entire arm from elbow to shoulder. Dr. Buch had done two previous surgeries using implants from the company Implantcast, but these were on knee surgeries. Implantcast is very well-known and widely used in Europe, but has not been FDA approved for wide-spread use here in the United States, so each case must be approved by the FDA on a case by case basis. Dr. Buch, who specializes in Orthopedic Revisions and Orthopedic Oncology, is the first and only surgeon who has been approved to use any of their implants in the United States.
According to Dr. Buch, the patient had a severe infection in his right arm (his dominant arm) and had completely lost mobility due to the damage from the chronic infection. "This man had seven failed surgeries prior to coming to see me and was recommended to have an amputation", Dr. Buch said. "I wanted to try and help this man save his limb. The arm is the most difficult limb to lose. If you lose a leg, you can walk again with prosthesis, but if you lose an arm, you will never be able to regain functionality with a prosthetic arm. This was his only shot to save his arm and regain at least 50% functionality again, which is much more than he would ever regain with prosthesis, and will allow him to have a functional arm again and do things."
Dr. Buch told him if he could clean up the infection enough to make him a viable candidate and get FDA approval to use the Implant cast MUTARS ®, which is not approved for use in the United States and thus had to go through the FDA, there was a chance to save the limb. It took almost four months to get FDA approval to allow Dr. Buch to perform the surgery and as of this morning, the patient is in recovery and doing very well.
Dr. Buch first reached out to Implantcast seven years ago when this Implantcast MUTARS® line first hit Europe as an option to help treat and resist infections. He went through courses and certifications to familiarize himself with this particular line and be able to perform these procedures on individuals where he is allowed to get FDA approval.
"This is a big day for Dallas Medical Center", said Raji Kumar, Chief Executive Officer. "We are lucky to have Dr. Buch on staff here as our Director of Orthopedics as someone who is willing to push the envelope to save someone's arm, who otherwise would have had no choice but to amputate."