Knee Surgery - Summer 2008

Breck, Alea, and Belle (grandpa's new puppy wish Dave happy birthday with an Oreo cake
Oh what fun the summer brings! We had all sorts of plans for our time back in the USA - family reunions, a trip out to our cabin, seeing relatives, and just enjoying being back. What better way to start than with a game of volleyball, right?
Here is the original blog entry about what (I thought) was going on.

Two days before Dave's scheduled departure out to Montana, he blew out his knee playing beach volleyball with his sister-in-law. After an MRI exam, it was determined that he had a "bucket-handle" tear of the meniscus (cartilage) as well as a shredded ACL. Basically, that meant surgery as soon as possible and the rest of the summer spent in recovery: no traveling.
Here is the original blog entry about finding out all this.

To share this special experience, here are some of the pictures that were snapped during surgery performed the day before his birthday:

This is what a healthy meniscus between the kneebones looks like. There is a big white kneebone above, a flexible protection of cartilage in the middle (being pressed on by some sort of doctor tool), and another kneebone below.

This is what Dave's left knee looked like. There are kneebones above and below (with feathery little indicators of arthritis), but no meniscus. Where, oh where, is all the cartilage?

Looking from the other side of the knee, the problem is obvious. The cartilage has torn in the middle (all the red stuff), gotten bent back over on top of itself, and is now 'trapped' under one of the bones (where the arrow is). This has locked the knee in place and prevented it from straightening out, as well as contributing to the pain factor.

The knee bones had to be pulled apart, the meniscus 'unfolded,' and then sutured into place. We were told there's about a 70% chance that the repair will work and the cartilage will hold. If not, the knee will have to be operated on again to take it out. Trying to get this to reconnect is one of the major reasons for Dave's required immobility following the operation.

The other damaged element was the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). This connects the top and bottom portion of the knee and stabilizes the knee when it is twisted (that is not a very scientific description, but you get the idea). I suspect that I actually damaged this playing soccer in September, as I had quite a traumatic knee injury at that time.

The surgical treatment was to cut a section of the tendon that connects my kneecap to shinbone, drill a hole through the kneebones, and thread that tendon through. Attaching it with a titanium screw (that black thing at about 2 o'clock on the picture above, the idea is that it will eventually regain the strength that the ACL once had.

All I know is that there is definitely some pain involved, and as wikipedia points out, "the lengthy rehabilitation period may be more difficult to deal with than the actual surgery." Here is the control center hooked up at my in-laws' house: reclining chair (to keep the knee elevated), black metal brace (to keep the knee straight), cooler and ice pack (to keep the knee from swelling), and crutches (to retain some semblance of mobility). I am lucky enough to have access to a computer, and here I am enjoying my first beer after the surgery!

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