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Students Will Watch Surgery in Progress

When Koh Ikeda’s ninth-grade health science class heads downtown for a field trip Wednesday, they won’t be visiting a museum to learn the secrets of ancient dentistry or touring a factory to learn how crutches are made.

Instead, the students from North Hollywood High School’s Highly Gifted Magnet will spend 90 minutes watching a live hip replacement via an innovative outreach program created by the Center for Arthritis and Joint Implant Surgery at USC University Hospital.

On Friday, nurse Jeri Ward visited the class to describe the procedure they’ll witness via a two-way television link with Dr. Lawrence D. Dorr in the operating room.

Using replica bones and artificial joints, Ward demonstrated how the surgeon will remove a portion of a 70-year-old woman’s femur and replace it with a metal ball and shaft.

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“Once you cut that off,” she said, “there’s no going back.”

After the patient’s nearly six years of constant pain, the surgery should help restore her mobility and quality of life, Ward told the class.

“She’s uncomfortable all the time. She can walk about a half a block before she has to stop because of the pain.”

Although the students will be in another room, they will have the opportunity to ask questions during the procedure through a microphone hookup.

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“It’s an opportunity that doesn’t come up all that often,” Ward said after the hourlong presentation. “The kids are so interested. They ask intelligent questions and they really appreciate the whole experience.”

Arianna Haut, one of Ikeda’s students, recalled the “incredible pain” her 49-year-old father suffered before having both hips replaced, pain that vanished after the surgical procedure.

The 14-year-old Topanga Canyon resident said she’s considering a career in orthopedics herself and is avidly awaiting Wednesday’s trip to the hospital.

“It’s pretty gory, but I like it,” she said. “It’s not disgusting, it’s fascinating.”

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