Bone Specialists Performing Advanced Orthopaedic Procedures at Life Wilgers Hospital
Surgical techniques in all disciplines have undergone a quantum leap during the course of the last half century or so, and orthopaedics has been no exception. Almost certainly, the biggest advance for bone specialists, such as those at the Life Wilgers Hospital in Pretoria, has been the development of techniques for the partial and even total replacement of joints, in particular those in the hip and the knee that are so crucial to ensure efficient, pain-free mobility.
With advancing years, this ability often becomes diminished and, in the past, this might have meant undergoing a protracted course of medication for pain relief and, in time, becoming totally dependent upon a wheelchair. Since those days, however, advances in orthopaedic surgery have led to some far more acceptable alternatives. Not only is it possible in many cases for bone specialists at Life Wilgers Hospital and other such centres to repair the damaged joints but, where the damage may be too extensive to reverse, they also have the skills to replace either a part or the whole of the faulty joint with a prosthetic one.
Each case is unique to some degree, and it is the responsibility of the attending surgeon to decide upon the most appropriate procedure based upon his or her assessment of the problem and the solution with the greatest prospect for success. Such decisions require both sound knowledge and extensive practical experience, and based upon the substantial number of local and international referrals received by the Pretoria centre, it is quite clear that the bone specialists at Life Wilgers Hospital have their fair share of both.
In addition to procedures such as X-rays and CAT scans, the orthopaedic surgeon has the benefit of a technique that allows a far more detailed view of a joint and any pathology that may be present within it. Known as arthroscopy, it involves the insertion of an endoscope into the joint via a tiny keyhole incision. At its tips are a light and a miniature video camera that relays images over a fibre optic cable to a TV monitor, thus allowing the surgeon to fully explore the articulating surfaces of the joint and the surrounding tissues.
The information obtained in this manner is often sufficient for the bone specialists at Life Wilgers Hospital to proceed with the appropriate treatment using additional keyhole incisions through which to insert the necessary instruments, whilst being guided by the monitor image. Typically, the arthroscopic approach is used in knee surgery to repair torn areas of a meniscus, or damage to the cartilage covering the joint surfaces. The procedure takes around 30 minutes and restores the stability of the treated joint, and the subject should be able to resume his or her normal activities within four to six weeks.
Equally restorative but perhaps even more impressive than this is the technique known as arthroplasty in which, over the years, the bone specialists of the Life Wilgers Hospital have gained a reputation for excellence. These procedures are more complex in nature and require more invasive surgery to remove any irreparably damaged portions of the bones in a hip or a knee joint, prior to replacing them with prosthetic parts of bio-compatible and durable materials designed to render the patient fully mobile and free of pain once again.