NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — It’s 6am on a Monday morning in late January and CT Style host and Good Morning Connecticut traffic reporter Teresa Dufour is getting ready to head into the O.R.
“Yeah I’m a little nervous,” Teresa said. “You don’t have surgery every day but I’ve been dealing with hip pain for the last seven years and it’s time that I got it done.”
Teresa is about to have a total hip replacement — not something you often hear about a 36-year-old, healthy woman.
“There’ll be a big sense of relief when somebody comes out and says she’s all set and we can see her again,” said Teresa’s husband Brandon Dufour.
“I first started having pain I’d say back in 2009,” Teresa recalled. “Something wasn’t right and I said you know I better go see a doctor and figure out what’s going on.”
Teresa’s problem began at birth when her hip didn’t develop correctly. The hip joint is made of a ball and socket held in place by a capsule. But in some infants that capsule is loose so the ball pops in and out.
“Over time, if the ball isn’t sitting in the socket perfectly, the ball doesn’t form as a round ball,” explained Paul B. Murray, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon at Hartford Hospital.
That condition is called hip dysplasia and over the last two years, it caused Teresa to develop a limp and at times pain.
“The pain is from bone rubbing on bone,” Dr. Murray explained. “As the cartilage wears away the underlying bone, which has nerve endings in it, rubs on the bone and you have discomfort.”
After Teresa’s son Dante was born last year, the problem only got worse.
“I couldn’t walk up the stairs holding the baby and at that point I realized, wow this is an issue and it’s starting to affect my everyday life.”
Teresa knew she needed to take action, so on January 25th she underwent robotic assisted hip replacement surgery at Hartford Hospital. During the procedure, sensors mapped out a 3-D model of Teresa’s hip, giving her surgeon a more exact set of eyes.
“It basically makes the procedure a lot more precise,” Dr. Murray said.
Dr. Murray removed the misshapen head or “ball” of Teresa’s femur and replaced it with a cobalt chrome implant. He then reshaped her hip socket and fit it with a cup-like implant. Over the next six weeks, both implants fused together with her bones.
Teresa wasted no time getting back on her feet. About five hours after surgery, she was up and walking around her hospital room.
“It hurt, don’t get me wrong,” Teresa recalled. “It was painful but it was incredible that I had this new piece of me and it was already working and it was already helping with my life so it was almost instant results.”
Two weeks later, I stopped by to check in on Teresa. Before the surgery, Teresa’s right leg was about a centimeter and a half shorter than her left, causing her to limp. Now that her hips are even, she’s relearning how to walk the right way.
“The baby and I are learning how to walk together,” Teresa said.
For two hours a day, five days a week, Teresa works with a physical therapist.
“Each patient is going to be different so there’s not a one size fits all,” explained Jason Scozzafava, a doctor of physical therapy. “I pretty much go in and I evaluate the patient and I find out where their weaknesses are and then I focus their exercises on that.”
But for Teresa, every step she takes is a step towards her goal.
“I want to be able to walk around Disney World with,” Teresa explained. “I want to be able to take him on trips. He’s gonna be an active little kid. I want to play soccer with him and none of that would be a reality if I didn’t have the surgery.”
But for this mom on a mission, every moment of her recovery is worth the reward.