My surgeons face had a surprised look on it the first time we met in his examining room.
‘From the look of the X-rays, I thought you were an 80 year old man.’ Dr. Bernard Blastorah, orthopedic surgeon extraordinaire. Master of total knee replacement surgery.
I found out later he installed the very first ‘Stryker Triathlon’ artificial knee in Canada, about two years previous. That was the model I was going to get. Incorporating the best features of two different previous favorites, Stryker had high hopes for the Triathlon. Me too.
Dr. Bernie left me no doubt that I was getting a new knee…or at least needed one. Go for it now or suffer through months of aggravation and pain and go for it later. Those were my options.
Twelve years ago, I was at the York University Sports Injury Clinic and Doctor Bull, at that time team doctor for Canada’s national hockey team laid it all out. “Give up jogging, give up basketball and be a little careful and you can go for a knee replacement when you’re 65. That way you’ll be dead before you need another. This isn’t the sort of thing you want to do twice.”
The way Dr. Bull explained it, everything I did from that day forward would just wear out the knee a little more. Jogging and basketball would wear it faster. Sitting on my ass in an easy chair watching TV or reading would have very little impact on it. I gave up jogging. I couldn’t give up basketball. I mean, it was just old-timers leagues. Twice a week, starting in October and running through till the end of March. I mean the Thursday night crowd was a little competitive, and they also had a spring league that tended to attract younger guys since there wasn’t a lot of other ball being played in Peterborough. But how much could that hurt.
So I’ve missed Dr. Bulls target by 9 years. I always kind of hoped I wouldn’t need a total knee replacement. Surely somebody would come along with a new artificial cartilage or something. It didn’t happen, so here we are.
Dr. Blastorah has some good news for me. “The Stryker Triathlon has some real advantages over the old models. There’s a little wear pad in there. In the older models, the wear would release larger particles that got wedged in where they weren’t supposed to be. Over the years that created leverage that could loosen the attachment points. That’s one of the reasons people having total knee replacements needed new ones. This new model wears with much finer particles. They don’t expect the same problem. So 20 years after your knee replacement, we might be able to get away with just replacing the wear pad.”
Dr. Bernie goes on to say how knee replacements had first started getting done in a big way about 12 years ago. At that time the expected life of a knee replacement was anywhere from 12 years up to 20. So this year he had kind of expected to start seeing patients coming in, in large numbers, for new ones. But it wasn’t happening. The numbers were much lower than expected. The knees were lasting longer than expected.
“Your new one is expected to be good for 20 years, but it might last years past that. We’ll know for sure in 20 years.”
Well, I’d take that.
Total Knee Replacement