The Role of Knee Surgeons and Other Orthopaedic Specialists
If you have ever suffered a broken arm or leg as a result of a motorcycle accident or a mishap on the rugby field, you would probably have spent some time on an orthopaedic ward. Depending upon the severity of your injury, it might have simply required reduction and a cast, but might also have needed the insertion of some pins and screws to ensure a stable repair. Such tasks normally fall under the heading of general orthopaedics, unlike arthroscopy and arthroplastic procedures that would normally be undertaken by surgeons who are specialists in conducting repairs to the knee, shoulder, hip and, other joints.
Although attempts to devise instruments with which to see inside the body date back to the time of Hippocrates, the first device that might be regarded as an endoscope appeared in the late 18th century and was designed to direct candlelight by means of a mirror into the ear and respiratory system. It was, however, the invention of the light bulb that made the typical tubular design possible that has continued to the present day. Already widely applied for procedures such as colonoscopy, gastroscopy, and cystoscopy, it was a Professor Kenji Takagi of Tokyo who, in 1919, first modified a cystoscope to examine the internal structure of a joint. Soon after, another of Japan’s surgeons used an arthroscope to perform a surgical intervention on the knee and became the first of the many specialists who would follow in this field.
He collaborated with others to develop intra-articular colour photography, and further advances in technology have since led to the use of fibre optic cables to conduct real-time, high-resolution video images in full colour. The result has been an instrument that has not only served as a powerful diagnostic tool, providing data not possible using conventional X-ray imaging, but also as a far less invasive option with which to conduct various surgeries on the body’s joints. Now widely adopted by knee surgeons and specialists in performing joint replacements or arthroplasty, the use of arthroscope interventions also offers a number of benefits for the patient.
For example, many of these procedures can be performed without resorting to general anaesthesia. Instead, an epidural will ensure that the patient can feel nothing below the waist, thus avoiding the possible side effects of general anaesthesia. Minimal exposure to external elements also reduces the risk of infection, while the use of keyhole incisions helps to limit blood loss and bruising, all of which serve to reduce the time required for post-operative recovery.
Joint replacements are not necessarily undertaken by all knee surgeons and, most often, it is the specialists with extensive experience in the techniques of arthroplasty that will tend to conduct these highly demanding and frequently life-changing, elective procedures. Each patient will require an in-depth case evaluation in order to determine the most appropriate form of intervention, as well as to decide on the best approach to adopt when the time comes to conduct the surgery.
The Life Wilgers Hospital in Pretoria offers the services of one of South Africa’s foremost knee surgeons and acknowledged specialists in the techniques of both arthroscopy and arthroplasty. As well-known for his contributions to orthopaedic research as for his record of accomplishments in the operating theatre, Dr Jan De Vos leads a world-class orthopaedic team skilled both in the treatment of trauma cases and elective procedures. The team’s record of success has led to the orthopaedic unit receiving numerous referrals from doctors all across South Africa, as well as from a growing number of those practising in several overseas countries.
Founder of the South African National Joint Registry and a former president of the South African Orthopaedic Association, there can be few hospitals with shoulder hip and knee surgeons and specialists in arthroplasty to equal the services of this prestigious Pretoria-based, orthopaedic unit.