Globe-trotting engineer returns to world projects with a post-surgery spring in his step

A Bristol engineer, who has been tackling projects across the world for more than 50 years, is about to start work in Asia after double joint replacement surgery at Emersons Green NHS Treatment Centre.

Mr Ian Shinner, 72, has worked as a mechanical engineer, commissioning and maintaining projects in 37 countries across the globe, but osteoarthritis meant just 20 minutes of driving could leave him in pain.

Four years ago he had an accident: a 200-kilo piece of engineering equipment dropped on his foot. It took numerous surgeries to correct, but the injury exacerbated a pre-existing medical problem.

He explained: “When I was 14 I had two operations to correct a condition that left me with one slipped hip joint and one semi-slipped joint. This led to my left leg being around 20mm shorter than the right. As a result, I developed a style of walking that saw me never properly straighten the knee on the longer side.

“As I recovered from my foot operations, my knee worsened. It was very painful and I had to take strong painkillers. I did not want to keep doing that, so I was pleased when my GP said it was time to have the whole knee replaced and even more pleased at the very short waiting time.”

Using the exercise regime devised by the centre’s physiotherapists, he was walking unaided in six weeks. Shortly afterwards, the same osteoarthritis that had attacked his knee joint took its toll on the hip that he had had pinned as a youth.

He said: “There was never a doubt that I would return to Emersons Green NHS Treatment Centre for my treatment: the centre and the team are wonderful. Everything was so efficient, with appointments scheduled for pre-assessment tests, a consultation with the surgeon and anaesthetist and a meeting with the physiotherapist to discuss pre- and post-operation exercise, all done in one visit.

“I was also impressed that everyone had a smile and could not do enough to help – and, just as before, the waiting time was very short.”

The surgery was a complete success: a delighted Mr Shinner left the treatment centre with a new hip and his legs now almost matching in length. This meant for Mr Shinner that, for the first time since he was 14, he could straighten his knee as he walked.

Orthopaedic consultant Mr Kenan Dehne said: “Mr Shinner is a shining example of how joint replacement surgery can change a patient’s life for the better.

“In adolescence, he was affected with a condition called slipped capital femoral epiphysis. After multiple surgeries, he was left with a deformed hip and a left leg that was significantly shorter than the other.

“This left him with disabling pain and a limping gait. Following my meeting with him in the treatment centre, a surgical plan was put in place using computer planning software. This meticulous planning meant that a standard hip implant could be used for his hip replacement.

“The planning allowed me to predict that I would be able not only to correct the deformed hip, but also alter the length to give him a better gait. The ability to use standard, highly-rated implants in complex cases to the best of outcomes means that the NHS does not have to pay for expensive, little-tried, custom built prosthesis.

“I am very pleased that Mr Shinner has recovered very well from his surgery and that he is now scheduling work projects in India and Pakistan for the future.”

Hospital director Rob Thomas said: “I am delighted that Mr Shinner is now able to go back doing the important work he does. The pain of osteoarthritis can be excruciating and can stop people doing vital work or caring for loved ones. It is a privilege to have colleagues like Mr Dehne and indeed the wider team here who all play critical roles in serving our patients. Our reputation continues to grow in Bristol and beyond with increasing numbers of patients also choosing to self-fund their treatment. Our service is also reaching across the bridge into Wales where patients there are benefiting for our service.

“The good news is that people do not have to live in pain: joint replacements are now routinely done under local anaesthetic, meaning most people are with us for two days or less and, with our very short waiting times, you can be back on your feet in no time.”