The Adventure of Living in the Kingdom of God

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Extreme Orthopedics

The level of orthopedic pathology here is staggering! Soddo Christian Hospital has become a trauma center for the southern regions of Ethiopia in part due to the recent acquisition of a CT scanner but moreso because of a consistent presence of orthopedic surgeons here for the past ten years. The combination of shared streets, poor road conditions, minimal traffic regulation, abundant motorcycles, overstuffed taxis (aka minivans), and congestion is a recipe for a never-ending stream of terrible injuries. The orthopedic wards (hospital rooms) are filled with young people, mostly men, who are (were) the providers for their households who leave their families - wives, children, parents, siblings - exposed to fall even more into poverty. In this region of the world, many people live on less than $2 per day. The reason Dr Anderson and Dr Greene - both American orthopedic surgeons - both serve here is that by preventing permanent disability from these injuries, they are helping prevent poverty for entire families. This is also the reason I am here - to learn how to better treat these injuries for future trips.

WARNING: Disturbing pictures below!!!! 

Below are some of the injuries and interesting pathology I've seen while I've been here.

Dislocated knee for 3.5 months. Underwent surgery and is doing very well.

Young female (20yrs) with the results of Tuberculosis of the lumbar Spine. TB is so common here and has devastating effects on these patient's lives. For those not accustomed to low back xrays, it's not supposed to look like that.
Dr Anderson (right) teaching an Ethiopian orthopedic resident how to treat a broken femur with a rod.

Horrible soft tissue injury to young lady's leg. Our wards have 12-15 patients with legs that look like this from the epidemic of road traffic accidents. She will likely need an amputation.

Young boy with a 3 week old ankle fracture with the bone (medial tibia) sticking outside his skin. Perhaps the greatest challenge of orthopedics in the developing world is how long it takes for some of these injuries to get to the hospital. Untold challenges and opportunities to help people.

"Preventing disability in the lives of patients prevents poverty for entire families!"

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