In the United States alone, more than 600,000 people undergo a single or bilateral total knee replacement operation each year. This incredible figure makes total knee replacement the most common surgical procedure performed each year. Next in line is the total hip replacement operation, of which there are between 300,000 and 400,000 performed annually in the U.S. Between the two procedures, it is clear to see that joint replacement (arthroplasty) is big business.
While the vast majority of operations go well, there is always a risk of infection following a major surgery. Infection can destroy the artificial knee and cause a patient to need an above the knee amputation. It is important to understand that no matter how much effort a hospital puts into sterilizing everything and making sure there are no germs present in the operating room, infections, including staff infections, are going to happen, and it is not necessarily anyone’s fault. In a recent news feature from CBS News, one woman had a total knee replacement operation and developed as serious infection at the site of the operation. The infection was so severe that the artificial knee was removed, and doctors could not replace it for months, leaving her with no knee joint. The reason for this is because they cannot implant an artificial knee into infected tissue or there will be increased infections and rejection.
The infection got so bad that doctors thought they would have no choice but to amputate, and she would have to have a full prosthetic leg. In some parts of the body, doctors could use antibacterial spacers, but the knee is one of the body parts where commercially available products were available. Since this was clearly not ideal, and the patient was constantly in tears at this time, the doctor decided to sculpt a temporary knee joint out of a product known as antibacterial cement. This knee was implanted, and she was able to walk again somewhat while the infection was healing. At this point, the joint was too badly damaged for a standard knee implant, so the doctor decided to use a very large knee implant used for bone cancer patients. This huge artificial knee actually worked better than he ever though it would.
This woman is now able to walk without a cane and lead a relatively normal live, which doctors consider somewhat of a modern miracle. Aside from infections, another way a patient will have serious problems, no matter how good a job the surgeon did, was if the knee device itself was defectively designed, such as the Stryker knee. As our Boston knee replacement attorneys have seen, when artificial knee has been defectively designed, the patient will likely have to deal with a great amount of pain and suffering and may experience a complete joint failure resulting in the need for a second or even third surgery. This will result in more time in the hospital, more time away from work, and more medical bills.
Call the Boston Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman for a free and confidential appointment — 1-888-367-2900.
Special Artificial Joint Saves Woman From Losing Leg After Knee Replacement, August 23, 2016, CBS New York
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