In 1968, as a pilot in the Vietnam War, William Marcrander's helicopter crashed, and he broke 15 bones, including a double compound fracture of his right leg. After 43 years of pain that made walking difficult, Marcrander got the medical help he needed and then climbed one of the world's largest volcanic cones.
Marcrander entered Barnes-Jewish Hospital for a total knee replacement performed by Washington University orthopedic surgeon Robert Barrack, MD, using MRI-generated custom cutting guides. Nine months later, he and his wife traveled to the Hawaiian island of O'ahu to climb Diamond Head, the famous 762-foot, 200,000-year-old volcanic cone.
Former helicopter pilot
ON THE INJURY
Years after the crash, my right leg would give out at the worst possible time.
ON SEEING DR. BARRACK
I have always been impressed by how thorough my treatment was at Barnes-Jewish. I also had surgery there to restore the use of my hand from injuries sustained in the helicopter crash in Vietnam.
When I got a new referral for Dr. Barrack, I felt comfortable because I was told that I needed the best orthopedic revisionist in the area, and that was Dr. Barrack.
ON CLIMBING DIAMOND HEAD
It took about 45 minutes to get up there— some hills, a lot of steps, walking on uneven lava— but it’s something we’ve wanted to do for years.
Robert Barrack, MD
Barnes-Jewish Hospital orthopedic surgeon
ON SETTING GOALS
When you’re dealing with an old injury and a major deformity, your goal is to allow the patient to get back to normal daily activities, like walking without pain. He did more than that, and I was surprised he did it so soon.
ON ADDRESSING THE INJURY
Because his femur was deformed due to severe war injuries, traditional knee replacement instruments that rely on a patient having relatively normal anatomy would have been difficult to use and much less accurate. A new technology allowed us to create a patient-specific replacement.
ON THE FUTURE OF TREATMENT
Advances in surgical technique and component design have allowed the vast majority of our patients to return to the activities most important to them, even among younger, more active patients like Mr. Marcrander.