Knee replacement: a modern miracle

By Lew Cohn

Managing Editor

A lot has been written about in this newspaper in the past about the Restore -The Remarkable Join Replacement Center at Hill Country Memorial Hospital in Fredericksburg. It is considered one of the best of its kind, not only in Texas, but in the nation.

In mid-October, Healthgrades released its ratings of nearly 4,500 hospitals nationwide and for the 2017 ratings year, HCM received Excellence Awards in joint replacement, pulmonary care, gastrointestinal care and general surgery, ranking HCM in the top 10 percent in the nation in those four categories.

Specifically, Healthgrades recognized HCM as a five-star recipient for total knee replacement, hip fracture treatment, colorectal surgeries, treatment of COPD, and treatment of pneumonia.

Hospitals that perform at the five-star level for a specific condition or procedure have some of the lowest risk-adjusted mortality or complication rates in the country. In other words, people on average are less likely to experience an in-hospital complication when receiving treatment or undergoing a procedure at hospitals in these categories.

On Nov. 1, HCM received an “A” safety grade from The Leapfrog Group. The grade reflects hospitals’ performance on measures like hand hygiene, falls and infections.

HCM was one of 844 hospitals in the nation and 78 hospitals in Texas to receive an A. This most recent rating is HCM’s seventh consecutive A grade since 2013. Hospitals are graded twice a year by Leapfrog.

These factors, as well as the incredible reputation and craftsmanship of Dr. Daniel Robertson, the medical director of the Restore program and former team doctor of the San Diego Chargers, led us to choose their program for my wife Betty, who underwent a total left knee replacement this Tuesday, Nov. 8.

That's right. On Election Day, while voters were racing to the polls and casting their ballots in a variety of races, my wife and I traveled to Fredericksburg, where Dr. Robertson and his staff replaced her left knee with a titanium substitute.

Betty has worked in medical for more than 30 years, from working in an emergency room as an 18-year-old to working as a medical researcher for the University of Texas at Austin M.D. Anderson Cancer Center to working as a medical-surgical registered nurse at several Dallas area hospitals.

Unfortunately, nurses are one of the groups of people most likely to eventually undergo a joint replacement due the long amount of time they are on their feet for work and the amount of stress placed on their joints.

For my wife, osteoarthritis and traumatic arthritis caused years of knee pain, stiffness and wearing away of the bone surfaces of the knee to the point she had very little support in her knee structure. If you do not know, the knee is one of the largest and most complex joint systems in the human body and therefore is one of the most stressed, causing it to wear out faster.

In surgery, Dr. Roberston cut away diseased and worn out bone in my wife's knee and resurfaced it. He also used some cadaver bone to replace where bone was absent in my wife's knee by doing an allograft.

A titanium component was cemented into her femur as well as metal plate that was drilled into the tibia and a plastic spacer sits between the two components, creating a new joint system.

The surgery took about an hour and a half as well as time in recovery. By 3 p.m., she was in her room at the hospital. Pain management is critical to help the patient during post-surgical recovery as is physical therapy. On Wednesday, Nov. 9, Betty began doing physical therapy twice a day and by later in the day, she was even walking with the aid of a walker from her room to PT!

Today, Friday, Nov. 11, she comes back home to Marble Falls and continues her recovery. It is our sincerest hope that by the time our anniversary rolls around on Dec. 28, or at least by New Year's Eve, we will be able to go out and sing and dance once more, but this time with much less pain and much greater motion restored.

Rate this article: 
No votes yet