Knee Surgery - Summer 2008
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
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
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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