NJ Pediatrician Receives Shoulder Surgery From Former Patient   

NJ Pediatrician Receives Shoulder Surgery From Former Patient

Dr. Mehta and Dr. Sethi

March 14, 2023

In her 47 years as a pediatrician, Chitra Sethi, M.D., 79, had seen hundreds of children. But in late 2020, it was her turn to be the patient when she woke up one morning with shoulder pain

“It was on my right side, and I couldn’t do anything without discomfort,” she says. While she’d been fairly active—exercising on the elliptical trainer and stationary bike for years—the ache kept her from almost all activity. It also stopped her from doing so many things she loved. “I cook with a passion, and I make everything from scratch,” she says. But all the chopping and stirring proved too painful. 

Despite 10 months of physical therapy, the pain refused to relent. So Dr. Sethi reached out to orthopedic surgeon Yair Kissin, M.D., who had performed her husband's knee replacement. She asked for a recommendation for a shoulder specialist, which led her to Siddhant Mehta, M.D. Ph.D., an orthopedic surgeon at Hackensack University Medical Center and chairman of Orthopedic Surgery at Palisades Medical Center.

When Dr. Sethi walked into Dr. Mehta’s office, both doctors were in for a shock. “I’d seen her name in the chart and thought it could be her,” says Dr. Mehta. When he saw face, it confirmed his hunch was right. “I introduced myself, like I do to all my patients, then I said, ‘You probably don’t remember me, but I remember you. You were my pediatrician when I was growing up,’” says Dr. Mehta.

A Full-circle Surgery 

After some initial catching up, Dr. Mehta examined Dr. Sethi’s shoulder. The diagnosis: a massive irreparable rotator-cuff tear. While two steroid injections initially helped with pain for a few months, in May 2022, Dr. Sethi was no longer able to raise her arm and decided it was time for surgery.

The rotator cuff is a group of muscles that helps stabilize the shoulder as the arm moves through all planes of motion. In Dr. Sethi’s case, the rotator cuff was torn and not amenable to an arthroscopic repair.  In older patients with massive irreparable rotator-cuff tears, reverse shoulder replacement is a surgery that can restore shoulder function by allowing the deltoid muscle to recreate the function of the torn rotator cuff.  

Dr. Mehta considered this a high-stakes case. “She’s not only a doctor, but my former doctor,” he says. “But I took care of her like I take care of all of my patients—like my own mother, father, brother or sister.”

Back to What She Loves 

Dr. Sethi was thrilled with Dr. Mehta. “It’s quite amazing to think about: My kids who I took care of are doctors now. Maybe I had something to do with it,” she says. “There was a time that he looked up to me, and now I look up to him. He did an excellent job on my shoulder; God bless him with success.”

She also appreciated the anesthesiologist’s handywork. “They helped keep me pain-free for four days after surgery,” she says. “They were fantastic.”

After a few months of physical therapy, Dr. Sethi is back in the kitchen, to the delight of her three grandchildren, who regularly gobble up her creations.

Her signature dish is stuffed paratha, an Indian flatbread stuffed with potatoes, cauliflower, onion, tomatoes and plenty of spices. “Not too many people make stuffed paratha because all that chopping can be very tedious. But my grandchildren love it, so I’m so happy I can finally make it again,” she says.

Next Steps & Resources:

The material provided through HealthU is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.



Subscribe to get the latest health tips from our expert clinicians delivered weekly to your inbox.

We use cookies to improve your experience. Please read our Privacy Policy or click Accept.