NorthShore Orthopaedic Surgeon Restores Shoulder Mobility Using Advanced Technique

Playing basketball and other sports helps Northbrook resident Chris Ning relax and keep fit as he embarks on his new career as project manager for a software manufacturer. Yet when a recurrent left shoulder dislocation compromised Ning’s athletic ability, he sought a long-term solution to guarantee he could still shoot hoops and swing a golf club.

Ning first dislocated his shoulder playing basketball in 2008. His shoulder was manipulated back into place and he was fine—until he slipped on some ice, causing another dislocation. He dislocated his shoulder several more times, including while snowboarding and once while sleeping.

“I thought it would eventually stop happening,” Ning, 22, said. However, with each dislocation, his shoulder ligaments were tearing, resulting in a cumulative “erosion” of the bony socket, or glenoid, of the shoulder joint, further increasing Ning’s chances of recurrent dislocation, said NorthShore orthopaedic surgeon Steven Levin, MD. Dr. Levin holds an academic appointment at the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine and is also on faculty for courses offered by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons/American Shoulder and Elbow Society.

Dr. Levin and other NorthShore orthopaedic surgeons share their knowledge in training medical residents in new surgical techniques. In July, NorthShore University HealthSystem implemented two new full-year fellowships with the University of Chicago: one in sports medicine and the other in hand surgery. These fellows train using leadingedge techniques to help future patients.

Such expertise helped Ning, who was referred to Dr. Levin after CT scans revealed approximately 25 to 30 percent bone loss in his socket. Dr. Levin recommended two possible procedures—minimally invasive arthroscopic surgery or a bone graft procedure. Ning chose the arthroscopic procedure, which uses small incisions and a tiny camera to inspect the ligaments before they are reconstructed. Given Ning’s youth, Dr. Levin felt it was a reasonable option.

During surgery, Dr. Levin noted significant damage to the ligaments and bone of Ning’s shoulder, but he reconstructed them. Ning initially did well, but he ultimately re-dislocated. Dr. Levin then recommended and performed a novel procedure on Ning: distal tibia (ankle bone) allograft, which uses a section of ankle bone from a cadaver that is grafted onto the shoulder socket. Dr. Levin is one of a handful of Chicago area orthopaedic surgeons performing this advanced procedure.

“The curvature of the ankle bone is a natural match to that of the shoulder bone socket, allowing more leeway to make the best fit,” said Dr. Levin. He likens the shoulder joint to a golf ball resting on a tee. The golf ball represents the ball of the shoulder bone and the tee, the socket. If the rim of the tee/socket wears down or breaks off, the ball/humeral head falls off or dislocates. The distal tibia allograft allows for a precise reconstruction of the socket, preventing further dislocation episodes.

“Dr. Levin was so great at explaining my options,” said Ning. He no longer has that nagging worry of his shoulder popping out of joint as he continues to enjoy basketball and golf.

To learn more about NorthShore’s advanced orthopaedic and sports medicine expertise, please call 855.929.0100 or request a consultation online.

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