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Shouldering a complex surgery for a patient in need

Going to college, getting a great job and someday starting a family are goals for many young adults. Imagine navigating goals like these while also managing a rare and potentially debilitating genetic disorder. Monica Zaring, a 22-year-old communications major at Bellarmine University, has microcephalic osteodysplastic dysplasia primordial dwarfism. The condition is so rare that she is one of only nine people in the world diagnosed with it. A complication of the condition is joint pain, which Zaring began experiencing in her shoulder in January 2010.

“I thought I had slept on it wrong,” Zaring said. “It was basically locked up and I couldn’t move it. I went to my regular physician for an evaluation that determined there was some deterioration in my shoulder.” Zaring was referred to multiple pediatric orthopedic surgeons and shoulder specialists in several states; however, because of her size, none would accept her case.

“After spending months searching for a physician, I finally found Dr. Ryan Krupp,” Zaring said. “He was really excited to be given this opportunity and told me that whatever needs to get done will get done.”

“Monica has an unbelievable passion for life and a great attitude that is really infectious,” said Dr. Krupp, orthopedic surgery, who specializes in complex shoulder reconstruction. “Because of her genetic condition, she essentially suffers from osteoarthritis. By the time she had made it to my office her shoulder cartilage had worn off the bone, and the bone was deteriorating and eroding.”

Given the difficulties of treating an adult with very small bones, Dr. Krupp would need customized surgical tools and joint implants to properly repair Zaring’s shoulder. To create these customized parts, he teamed up with a leading joint replacement technology developer to design and build a custom joint.

Zaring received her new shoulder in December 2010. Although she’s still healing from surgery, Dr. Krupp is optimistic she will have a great outcome.

“I have the easy part as the surgeon,” Dr. Krupp said. “Monica has to do the hard part. Through rehabilitating the shoulder, building strength and working to get motion back, she is the one who will determine what her long-term outcome will be. “If how she has addressed everything else in her life is any indication of her rehabilitation, I have no doubts that she is going to do very well.”


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