How an arthritis operation by a QA surgeon changed this Fareham pianist’s life

A MUSIC teacher is back to her best after life-changing surgery helped combat her arthritis.

Queen Alexandra Hospital surgeon Dr Phil Sauve is leading the way on the Cartiva Synthetic Cartilage Implant operation, having completed the most in the world.

Surgeon Philip Sauve with a model of the hand showing the implant in blue. Picture: Malcolm Wells

Surgeon Philip Sauve with a model of the hand showing the implant in blue. Picture: Malcolm Wells

The surgery, for people with osteoarthritis in their thumb joints, inserts an implant into the bone to stop the pain and restriction on movement caused by the condition.

Maria Howell, from Fareham, had the operation as part the Grip clinical studies being carried out by QA Hospital along with a centre in Derby and hospitals in Canada.

She is one of 32 patients to have the surgery by Dr Sauve and said it had made a huge difference to her life.

‘I have been teaching singing and music for a very long time and I am a sports therapist as well,’ Maria said.

‘All these things were wearing my thumb joints out. I had to stop because I was in pain. My thumb was also partially dislocating.

‘The surgery made a tremendous difference, I am not miserable anymore and I was able to start teaching again. I am not in constant pain and my flexibility is back when playing the piano.

‘It is great to be able to play again.’

Dr Sauve, consultant trauma and orthopaedic hand and wrist surgeon, is one of two in England who can do the operation and said the study has been an exciting time for orthopaedic surgery.

He said: ‘Other treatments for this condition are good for pain and movement but not for grip. The Cartiva implant gives the same results for pain and range of movement but grip strength increases by at least 100 per cent.

‘For people with an active lifestyle or are still working, it is a much better option.

‘This is still a study so we are closely monitoring the patients and the early signs are very good.’

Dr Sauve said it was great for QA Hospital to be involved in the surgery which is getting interest from overseas.

It is being introduced in America and television network CBS flew over from the States to interview Dr Sauve about his work.

He added: ‘It is great for us as surgeons for personal development but it is also good for QA to be leading the way.’