Friday, August 26, 2016

My Recent Surgery

As most everyone knows, I recently had surgery on my left knee.  The surgery had me out of work for two weeks.  In addition to that, I cannot put any weight on my leg for an additional four weeks, which means I will be using crutches and a walker during this time.  The surgery is called an Open Wedge High Tibial Osteotemy.  Here is a brief description of the procedure.

Crutches for at least 4 more weeks.
Osteotemy literally means "cutting of the bone".  In a knee osteotemy, either the tibia (shinbone) or the femur (thighbone) is cut and reshaped to relieve pressure on the knee joint.  Most osteotemies are done on the tibia (shinbone) to correct a bowlegged alignment that is putting too much stress on the inside of the knee.  This is the procedure that I had done.

A knee osteotemy has three goals:
     1.  To transfer weight from the arthritic side of the knee to a healthier area.
     2.  To correct poor knee alignment.
     3.  To prolong the lifespan of the knee joint.

By preserving my own knee anatomy, a successful osteotemy should delay the need for a knee replacement for many years.  Another advantage is that there are no restrictions on physical activities after full recovery.  In other words, I will be able to play golf again and continue to practice my martial arts. However, the biggest negative to this procedure is the initial pain (it's VERY painful) and the length of time it takes to recover.

During the surgery, the bone is cut and opened up to create a wedge on the inside of the tibia, under the arthritic side of the knee.  When the surgeon opens the wedge, it straightens the leg.  The open wedge is then supported by a metal wedge and plate and then anchored by four large screws. The open area is then filled with a bone like substance that acts like a lattice for new bone to grow, which will take between three and six months for a complete fusion.   As a result, the knee can carry weight more evenly, easing pressure on the painful side.
Open Wedge High Tibial Osteotemy
My actual x-ray showing the 1/2 inch open wedge, plate, and screws.

A knee osteotemy is most effective for thin, active patients who are between 20 and 60 years old. Additionally, since I only had pain on one side of my knee, I was a good candidate for the procedure. A knee replacement was out of the question because of my age and level of activity as I would have worn it out in short order.  The Dr. estimates that this procedure will give me at least ten years before I will need a knee replacement.

While I am almost three weeks into this, I am glad I decided to go forward, despite the lengthy recovery time.  It will be fun to work, compete, and perform at a level that I feel that I am capable of again when I fully recover.  I want to thank everyone at the club for the calls and the cards that I received while I was laid up at home.  Your thoughts meant a lot to me. I also want to thank my staff for supporting me and continuing to perform at the highest level in my absence.  And lastly, I want to thank my wife for doing what is the real hard work, taking care of me.