New techniques help Wanstead woman get back on her feet in double quick time

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An active life and an accident while walking her dog had left Susan Griffiths in considerable pain from a complex knee injury, but thanks to pioneering surgical techniques used at North East London NHS Treatment Centre she is now active again – after spending only two nights in hospital.

The national average for hospital stays for people recovering from complete knee replacements is 6.4 days. At the Care UK-run treatment centre in Ilford the average has been reduced to 2.8 days thanks to the use of spinal block anaesthetics and enhanced recovery programme rather than the conventional general anaesthetic.

Mrs Griffiths said: “I am a bit of an anxious patient and when I heard that I would not be under a general anaesthetic during the operation I was relieved.

“The team in the ward and the operating theatre were very friendly and professional. The anaesthetist was very reassuring. I had the block and I was sedated and I felt comfortable and relaxed throughout the whole procedure.

“When I got back on the ward the team were excellent and came to chat to me regularly during my stay, which I appreciated. I also enjoyed the food and the whole centre was spotlessly clean.”

The morning after the operation, Mrs Griffiths worked with the team to get mobile. They helped her to walk with crutches and as her confidence grew they began to practise on the physiotherapy stairs.

Mrs Griffiths said: “They explained to me that getting moving helped recovery – amazingly I was able to leave on the Monday in time to sleep in my own bed, which was a comfort. No matter how good a hospital is, I think we all feel more comfortable in our own home.”

Mrs Griffiths was also pleased with her follow-up care. As well as providing physiotherapy, the team were on hand to help her with a new DVT stocking to increase her comfort. When she experienced a slight area of redness six weeks after the operation, her surgeon saw her the next day.

She said: “My surgeon, Mr Nurul Islam Ahad, has been exceptional throughout my treatment, including the aftercare. I have a very fine, faint scar from his operation, unlike the ligament surgery I had in the 1980s, and four weeks after the operation I was able to go on holiday to the Norfolk Broads, whereas previous surgery had seen me in a heavy cast for 10 weeks.

“My knee problems stem back to my teenage years when I was a keen athlete. I was a fast runner and in one game of rounders I fell as I ran a corner and I felt my knee just give way. I tore my cartilage and had to have an operation. It was operated on again 35 years later, when I fell down the stairs and tore the ligament – the surgeon said it was on the verge of collapse. That held for a number of years until my foot accidently went into a rabbit hole as I was walking my dog. It just got worse from there.

“It wasn’t until I had the operation that I realised how much pain I had been in and how much my movement and walking had been affected. People have commented on how that has changed already and I am really looking forward to being back to my active self.

“I would recommend the centre and the technique to any of my friends that need to have a knee replacement.”

Mr Ahad said: “Susan’s story is really quite amazing in that her leg had a severe deformity and unlike simple joint replacement she required complex surgery to improve her condition and allow her to walk straight. I am delighted she is so happy with her treatment.”

Hospital Director Ashley Livesey said: “The new techniques we use at the centre have been well received by our patients who tell us they prefer to complete their recuperation at home. Satisfaction levels are very high and the short stays also allow us to carry our more surgeries, cutting the waiting times of people needing joint replacement in North East London.”

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