Problem Knees, No Problem -, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Problem Knees, No Problem

February 24, 2003

Albany-- It's hard to get around without them. Your knees help you walk, bend and jump. And if your used to being active it's tough to get used to knee problems, so some turn to surgery.  

Bonnie Hill is on her way to a doctor's appointment. “I have a hard time getting in and out of car until my medicine does kick in. I'm hoping the surgery will make all that go away and that I can go back to my normal everyday life.” Bonnie injured her right knee dancing, almost a year and a half ago. “I felt a pop more than I heard anything, from there on out I started limping.”

“We've been treating you with active modification of excercise program and physical therapy for year now and just haven't gotten better,” said Orthopedic Surgeon Dr. James Mason. “In fact you're getting worse rtight?”

Doctor Mason is a Surgeon at Albany Orthopedic Center. “She continued to have pain and swelling and now she's developed a cyst on the back of her knee, next step is look inside her knee with a small instrument known as an arthroscope.”

Bonnie is okay with the surgery, but nervous about the anesthesia. “That's my biggest thing that scares me is not waking up.” But Doctor Mason says he’s never seen that happen.

A week later, Bonnie is wheeled into surgery at Palmyra Medical Centers. Within 23 seconds of receiving a shot of anesthetic, Bonnie is out, and Doctor Mason is ready to start surgery.

The arthroscope has a camera attached to the end allowing Dr. Mason to see inside Bonnie's knee on this monitor. “This is the underscore surface of Bonnie's kneecap, nice and smooth. Looks like torn when she injured herself, we'll probably be removing that,” said Dr. Mason.

In one hand, Doctor Mason uses a shaver to remove cartilage and the other has an arthroscope, both pencil size incisions. With a push of a button, Dr. Mason can record the surgery on CD for Bonnie to look at later. “We've kind of cleaned up the meniscul tear and some of the surrounding and imflamed tissue. I think that leaves her a stable meniscus now.”

Forty-five minutes later, Doctor Mason is done. “It was actually worst than I thought it would be.” Bonnie had more tears in her knee than the MRI had shown, but Doctor Mason was able to clean it all out. “She'll probably wake up and be ready to go home in about an hour and a half.”

Bonnie's worst fears disappeared. She woke up with no problem.

A few weeks later Bonnie started physical therapy at Advanced Rehab Center in Albany. “One of the biggest part of Physical Therapy and Rehab is trying to get this muscle back to full strength and capability. So, she doesn't have continued problems later on,” said Physical Therapist Bob Dykes.

Her problem knee was not a problem any more. “Bring that right knee in and extend it,” Dykes says to Bonnie.

The arthroscope left behind only two small scars, barely noticeable, but Bonnie's knee feels a whole lot better. It's been a few months since the surgery, and Bonnie's physical therapy is over, and she works out at the gym regularly.

Arthroscopy is about 20 years old in the United States. Doctor Mason says with this type of surgery, the risk of damage to an artery or nerve is about one in 2,000. The risk of a blood clot is one in a thousand.

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