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Complex knee op gets Michael back to dragon boat racing

Company news

A Southampton man is back to running dragon boat racing events pain free, thanks to a complex knee operation which involved bespoke surgical instruments from the US.

Michael Lanyon, 65, from Thornhill works at Dragon Boat Events at Northington Down near Winchester. Michael’s is a physical job, but years of knee problems had left him in pain, unable to bend his knee, stand up straight or walk without a limp.

With more than 50 events to manage all over the country between May and September, as well as the maintenance of more than 20 dragon boats, it was imperative that Michael was able to get about to do his job.

He said: “It all started when I was 15. Over the years I’ve had many operations to remove bone from my knee joint but the situation just got steadily worse. I was living in Cornwall at the time and in 2007 my local hospital put in a metal plate to strengthen my leg. I really needed some serious reconstructive surgery on my knee, but consultants in the South West kept telling me I was too young.”

Michael moved to Southampton two years ago. He saw his new GP about his knee and was referred to see a consultant orthopaedic surgeon, Christopher Waller from Southampton NHS Treatment Centre.

He said: “I saw Mr Waller in October 2016 within a few weeks of visiting my GP. We went through the problem and he said ‘let’s get a plan together’. The first thing that needed to be done was to take the metal out of my knee and this happened in the November. The plan was to give me three to four months to recover and then look at reconstruction surgery on my knee.

“However, I was concerned that this would affect my work and mean I would be off for the busy season, so we decided to delay treatment until autumn 2017. There was a further understandable delay because some of the elements for the surgery had to be tailor made in the US and a special CT scan was needed as part of the planning process. This took us to November 2017.

“I decided that I wanted to wait until after Christmas, so my surgery took place in January 2018. I was grateful to Mr Waller and his colleagues for their flexibility in allowing me to choose when I could have treatment.”

Michael was impressed by the care he received at Southampton NHS Treatment Centre: “Mine was a several-hour operation and I was in hospital for only three days. I experienced very little pain, and then only when the bruising came out. I’ve been back for physiotherapy and exercise on the knee-bending machine and that has been brilliant. My post-operation assessment was a success and I was told I would not need to be seen again for another year.

“I can’t praise Southampton NHS Treatment Centre enough. They were really cooperative and flexible, fitted in with my work and always did the things they said they would do, when they said they would do them. That is so important if you have a business to run. I can now walk like everyone else walks and I no longer catch myself limping in window reflections when I’m out and about.”

Michael’s surgery and care were performed by consultant orthopaedic surgeon, Christopher Waller, who is also medical director at Southampton NHS Treatment Centre.

He said: “I saw Michael and realised he had a complex problem. He had a massively arthritic knee, with a range of motion limited to an extent I have never seen before, only 20 degrees. He had a bend in the thigh from previous problems and surgery which meant a standard knee replacement technique was not possible. He still had a long plate and series of screws at the lower part of the thigh.

“I made the plan to remove the plate first, and this we did at one operation. After a period to allow the holes in the bone to fill in and the wounds to fully heal we then considered replacement. Timing fitted around his work and a hand operation.

“I felt he needed instrumentation made bespoke to him, a technique called ‘patient-specific instrumentation’, to ensure I put the knee replacement in the right place to give him a stable well-aligned knee. This required him to have a CT scan to show the leg in three dimensions. I liaised with the implant company technicians in the US to create the special instruments specific to him.

“The surgery was very difficult because the knee was so stiff and arthritic, with the deformed thigh above. It made the procedure very challenging. I had to be careful and cautious not to damage vulnerable structures. But by following the bespoke plan, and using the special instruments I was able to put in the new knee replacement and increase his movement from 25-45 degrees of bend to 0-90 degrees of bend.”

Southampton NHS Treatment Centre is part of the choice NHS patients can make for where they receive treatment. Provided a GP or other referring medical practitioner agrees that treatment is needed, patients can ask to be referred to Southampton NHS Treatment Centre where waiting lists are generally shorter than elsewhere in the region.