Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Total Knee Replacement - Surgery Plus Fourteen Days

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Total Knee Replacement

When I had my knee replacement surgery, they closed up the incision with staples. This was a first for me. Any incisions I’ve received in the past have been closed with stitches. I posted a picture of what the staples looked like in a previous entry.

Knee With Staples

Two weeks after the knee surgery I went to get the staples out.

Originally they were supposed to be removed at home by a nurse provided by the Health Care service. I was told, just before I left the hospital, that they were booked solid and I should arrange for my own doctor to do it. So that is what I did. Of course, my own doctor was not available for the removal, but the medical center where his office is located arranged for a resident to do the job.

I thought I was ready for anything. My daughter reassured me it was a simple procedure. “It was one of my favorite things to do when I was doing my placements. There’s nothing to it.” So I steeled myself a little. Thirty staples being released from their death grip on my flesh with some kind of pliers device didn’t seem like a “nothing to it” type of thing, but I’m a big, strong, brave guy. I could handle it. Until the resident walked in. He looked about 18 years old.

He seemed sure of himself during the introduction and I felt quite okay until we got to the point where he wanted to check out the staples. I hiked up my track pants and I swear his eyes actually bugged out a little. “Well,” he said. “You’ve got quite a few in there. The incision looks like it’s healing quite well. Could you excuse me a minute?” He got up and smiled at me as he left the room.

I looked up at Lynn. She had wanted to come along and see how staples are removed. “Do you get the feeling he just went to find a nurse and ask about staple removal,” I asked. She just laughed. “Maybe he’s gone to find the staple removal instructions.” Was I going to be his first? Was the young resident a staple removal virgin? Inquiring minds want to know.

I must admit that this was my first really queasy moment in the whole total knee replacement adventure. We watched him struggle to get his surgical gloves on. His hands were about two sizes to small for the gloves in the office, there was a lot of loose latex flopping around and he looked incredibly awkward as he slipped his fingers into the handle of the removal device. Check out the picture and imagine how it looked to me.

He was a little tentative as he approached his first staple, but he was trying hard to act confident as he slipped the tips of the device under the staples edge. One squeeze on the handles and the staple obediently let loose its clasp of my skin and came free.

You could tell he wanted to triumphantly look up at Lynn and I, but he restrained himself and acted as if this was just what he expected. By the time he got to staple number 15 it was old hat, and the last few almost came out by themselves.

The whole process went smoothly, with virtually no discomfort for me, and only a little for him, right at the beginning. I was pleased that I had been his first. He said his intention was to work as a GP, so I was doubly pleased to be helping a young one help fill the gap in family doctors that exist right now in Ontario.

I want to reassure anyone that may be looking at staple removal that there is no pain associated with it. I had been expecting some kind of local, but nothing of the sort, nor was it required. I remembered Dr. Blastorah telling me that my knee would feel a little funny, with some loss of sensation on the surface, after the operation. And that is true. Maybe that's one reason there was no discomfort.

All in all I would say it was an educational day, all the way around. Last but not least, here's a look at my stapleless knee.


Anonymous said...

I had a knee replacement surgery a week ago and will go in tomorrow for staple removal. I was wondering about some of the same things that you were asking so the information which you gave online was highly useful to me. I will not look at the staple removal as a torture or highly painful but will think on the bright side.
~Thanks so much for you information~

Anonymous said...

Thank you! I go to my doctor in about an hour to have 33 staples removed from my knee and I was terrified. I'm happy to hear I have nothing to worry about.

Benenden Hospital said...

It's important to mention that, even if the worst comes to the worst and you need surgery, medical advancements have made treatments on areas such as this routine procedures, often without requiring an overnight stay. so there's no reason to be nervous or apprehensive. You're in good hands.

Paul Stevens, Bootstrap Local Marketing said...

Glad to see that this post is providing some reassurance. It is a routine procedure and really it didn't hurt in the least, though I did grit my teeth at first.