Longer lasting shoulder replacement at Rose Medical Center
A new shoulder replacement implant provides long-lasting relief.
Younger patients get new lease on life with newly approved, long-lasting shoulder implant
When he was only a teenager, Wes Bovee was in a BMX accident that changed his life. He landed on his right shoulder, killing the blood supply to the joint’s cartilage causing it to become severely arthritic. By his mid-twenties, Wes was in chronic pain and only had about 50 percent usage of his shoulder. Wanting to stay active, he reached out to doctor after doctor, each of whom explained he was too young for the necessary shoulder replacement. They told him the technology simply wasn’t available to place an implant that would endure his lifestyle and longevity.
But Wes wouldn’t give up. His motto became ‘adapt and endure.’ He taught himself to be left-handed so he could continue participating in sports—and he never lost hope that technology would advance and give him the relief and life he longed for.
A pioneering procedure at Rose Medical Center
His patience paid off. In 2017, when he was in his mid-30s, Wes found the Rose Medical Center shoulder program in Denver, CO. He learned that its medical director, Armodios Hatzidakis, M.D., was running a clinical trial for patients just like Wes—young, active and in need of a shoulder replacement. And Wes was just in time—he was the last patient accepted for the program’s clinical trial. The Investigational Device Exemption (IDE) study with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) included 31 patients at Rose Medical Center. It was investigating the use of a pyrocarbon humeral head implant during a shoulder hemiarthroplasty. A traditional implant can fail over the course of a younger patient’s life by breaking down over time due to socket component loosening. However, this implant’s material is comprised of a carbon-ceramic composite with graphite—a material described as ten times stronger than bone and is expected to last a lifetime for a young adult.
Getting back in the game
For Wes, he felt the difference right away—immediately after surgery, he felt relief in his shoulder. Within a few months, he couldn’t even tell an implant was there. By six months post-op, he was throwing overhand and hanging from bars. “It improved the quality of my life dramatically,” he explains. While he was thrilled to have his pain alleviated and get back to the joys of his hobbies, the most exciting post-surgical change he experienced was being active with his children—for the first time. He recalls that prior to surgery, he hated not being able to hold his kids on his shoulders and throw them into the water like other dads. He hated sitting out of the obstacle course section of endurance races with his older sons. But after surgery, he has been playing basketball and golf with his youngest and working out with his older sons, participating in all aspects of endurance races.
The clinical trial was successful, and the implant received FDA clearance in late 2022. The nation’s first FDA-approved case was performed at Rose Medical Center earlier this year and is continuing to provide new hope to young patients with severe shoulder arthritis with this advanced treatment. Learn more about undergoing shoulder surgery at Rose Medical Center or find a doctor.