Orthopaedic Procedures Undertaken by Joint Surgeons

Nov 13, 2018 | Articles

The Orthopaedic Procedures Routinely Undertaken by Joint Surgeons in Pretoria

The human body is an incredibly complex machine. In addition to the many internal organs that, between them, perform the essential functions of life, from respiration, digestion, circulation, and reproduction, to enabling conscious thought, the musculoskeletal system serves as a means to protect the most vital of these. It also acts as the support for the muscles responsible for locomotion and other voluntary movements, while the long bones are also involved in haematopoiesis – the production of blood cells. There are 206 bones in the adult human and, between them, they form a total of 360 joints. While many are fused and immobile, like those in the skull, the majority are of the synovial type and capable of movement. It is these that are the main focus of attention for joint surgeons in Pretoria and other cities across the globe.

The knee joint, for example, acts as a hinge to allow flexion between the two long bones known as the femur and the tibia. They consist of a long shaft or diaphysis bounded at each end by the epiphyses. The latter are covered by a layer of smooth hyaline cartilage that serves to protect them against frictional forces during articulation. Held in place by ligaments, the whole is encased in a capsule containing viscous synovial fluid that acts as a lubricant, while the muscles responsible for movement are anchored to the bones by tendons. Damage to any part of this structure will require the attention of specialist joint surgeons such as those at the Life Wilgers Hospital in Pretoria.

In some cases, the damage may be accidental. Sports injuries involving the knee and shoulder are a regular occurrence among both amateur and professional athletes. They frequently display a tendency to push the envelope, which will often result in overexertion. Among the most common sports injuries are fractures and tears to the meniscus or the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). Dislocations are also a common sports injury, but can usually be treated on the spot with no need to call for the assistance of specialist joint surgeons. In the Pretoria clinic mentioned above, a torn meniscus or ACL will normally be dealt with arthroscopically.

Arthroscopy is a minimally invasive procedure that avoids the need to totally expose the joint, and with it, the increased risk of excessive bleeding and/or infection. Developed first for diagnostic purposes, it employs a narrow tube which carries a fibre optic cable. When inserted into a joint through a tiny incision, it conveys light to the examination area and images to a video camera, which then displays them on a monitor. This provides joint surgeons in Pretoria with a real-time view of the bones, cartilage, and soft tissues in a damaged hip or knee, for example. At this point, it is often possible to perform the necessary intervention simply by creating one or two additional keyhole incisions through which to insert the required instruments and then using the view from the video monitor to manipulate them.

In addition to performing these relatively minor restorative procedures, a major speciality of the joint surgeons in this Pretoria hospital is arthroplasty. It is used, for example, when the layer of cartilages protecting the articulating surfaces of the bones within a joint is damaged to the extent that a simple repair is no longer a viable solution. In such cases, it is often necessary to remove the damaged section or sections of bone and replace these with prosthetic parts. The objective of arthroscopy is to restore the normally smooth articulation between the bones involved, for which various materials, including metals such as titanium, specially toughened plastics, and ceramics to create the prosthetic joints.

The state-of-the-art facilities, in combination with the exceptional skills and experience of the joint surgeons and other specialised staff of the orthopaedic unit at this Pretoria hospital, have enhanced its reputation as a centre of excellence both locally and internationally. As a result, the team now experiences a steady flow of referrals for shoulder, hip, and knee replacements from practitioners in South Africa and a number of overseas countries.

Arthroplasty can be life changing and is considered by the healthcare professionals, who perform these procedures on a daily basis, to be the most successful orthopaedic intervention ever developed, Under the expert care of the specialist joint surgeons and theatre staff, it is equally true that the Life Wilgers Hospital in Pretoria is among the best places for patients to undergo arthroplasty.