Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Knee-day: operating and recovery rooms

Knee-day: Wednesday, 29-Sep-2004:
Operating Room:
I had no recollection of going INTO the OR. However, I woke up in the OR as the team was cleaning up. There was a blue cloth drape in place at my waist that was about 18 inches high, just high enough that I could not see over it as I lay flat on my back. Someone from the surgical team noticed that I was awake, and the surgeon looked up and said “Hi -- everything went really well. You had one very ugly knee. We’re just finishing up. I’ll see you in recovery.” Then I was back out. My guess is that the anesthesiologist backed off on the sedation as the surgery was being completed, allowing me to wake up, and then took me back under.

Recovery room:
The surgeon talked with my wife, told her that the surgery went extremely well, and that mine was the 3rd or 4th worst knee he had ever seen. Apparently, there were many floaters and “spurs”, ranging from golf ball-sized on down to sand and gravel-sized pieces. It is standard practice to count the pieces as they are removed. When my count got to 20 pieces, they were down to gravel-sized pieces, and just flushed the remainder of them out, declaring them to be “TNC” ---“Too numerous to count”. The total count of things removed was >100.

In recovery, the surgeon later told me the same story, almost word-for-word, but also told me that he took out the entire synovial membrane. It was so irritated and inflamed that it resembled a piece of old leather, scarred and thickened. All of the “gravel” simply ground at the membrane, keeping it in constant irritation. He said that my body was already rebuilding the synovial membrane, giving me a brand-new one.

I said the word “osteophyte” out loud, and he went on about how some of the pieces were attached, and that some were floating, but that all were removed. He was able to remove so much of the spurring that he was able to use an implant that was 4 sizes smaller than originally planned (from the X-rays). This was one more good reason for the manufacturer’s rep to be in the OR. In all, my new knee was 4 inches thinner than my old knee.

And then he left the recovery room. I don’t remember much after that until I got to my hospital room.