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Southend consultant leads the way in pioneering surgery

24 April 2012

Health Care

Southend University Hospital consultant Mr Greg Packer has earned his place in medical history by becoming the first surgeon in the world to perform a new type of wrist replacement.

Greg has now completed a total of nine hemi-wrist arthroplasties - a procedure which involves removing three bones in the wrist and replacing them with a steel alloy implant. He is now teaching the technique to other surgeons around the world. The beauty of the implant is that it can replicate the mobility of the actual wrist bones.

Grateful patient, Stewart Locke (pictured here with Greg), believes fate led him to Greg's door. After suffering painful wrist problems for many years, he believed his only option was to have a bone fusion. But with two young children, a kitchen fitting business which entails sawing and hammering - not to mention a passion for golf - the prospect of not being able to flex his wrist was alarming.

Fortunately, a series of delays with his previous consultant meant nothing was done before he heard about Greg's pioneering work.

Stewart, 50, from Clacton, said: "When I first met Greg, he had just been to America to research the operation and was ready to try it.

"As it was totally new, there was not much information available. But he was very positive - and I am quite a positive person myself."

Despite the doom-mongers who warned against it, Stewart decided anything was better than a bone fusion so, in August last year, he became only the fifth person in the world to undergo the surgery.

Greg said: "So many everyday activities involve wrist movement. In the past, there were really only two treatments available to patients like Stewart: a total wrist replacement with metal implants attached to the end of the arm and to the hand, separated by a spacer to allow the hand to move, or fusing the wrist bones together.

"Both techniques meant only limited mobility."

Stewart added: ""I have no regrets at all and am very happy with the outcome. I would recommend the operation to anyone in the same situation and especially as an alternative to fusing the wrist together.

"It is still early days but I am hoping to get back on the golf course any time now."