Some of the conditions that cause people to choose knee replacement surgery are osteoarthritis, meniscus or ligament tears, and defects in the cartilage.
For many, knee replacement restores mobility and ends pain, but sometimes things go wrong. Occasionally, the surgery is not successful because of negligence on the part of the surgeon.
Proper Alignment is Critical
To function properly, the knee prosthesis must be properly aligned. Misalignment of the joint can cause limited range of motion if there is reduced flexion and/or extension of the leg, causing pain, difficulty in performing daily activities, and excessive wear and tear, and can also cause the prosthesis to loosen.
Walking requires around 70 degrees flexion and close to full extension of the knee, while sitting and standing up from a sitting position requires 90 degrees, and going down stairs needs 105-110 degrees. Loss of flexion beyond these measurements means impairment in normal daily activities. A loss of extension, also called extension contractature, causes an abnormal gait and requires the expenditure of additional energy in getting around. To determine if there has been a loss resulting from the surgery, post-operative range-of-motion measurements are compared to preoperative range of motion and to the range of motion in the opposite knee
In a study conducted by Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, researchers identified several surgical techniques that take into account a patient’s individual knee characteristics and ensure that the implant is properly aligned and balanced with ligaments and soft tissue:
- A gap-balancing technique to provide better stability and performance.
- Techniques designed to restore the soft tissue in the knee, beyond just bone replacement.
- Resecting the femur so the implant does not extend over the sides of the bone.
- Techniques to allow surgeons to safely “downsize” components in the course of the operation while improving the balance of the knee.
It is essential that the surgeon x-ray the joint during surgery to make certain that it has been aligned correctly, and new computer-aided techniques are now available in some hospitals to assist surgeons in precisely aligning the replacement joint.
Proving Medical Malpractice For Knee Replacement Surgery
Knee replacement surgery relies on a surgeon’s precision and skill to produce the best possible outcome. When a surgeon fails to use available surgical techniques and technologies and the result is poor, causing undue pain and suffering and necessitating additional surgery, the patient may have a claim to recover damages for medical malpractice, but only within a specific timeframe.
Although something negative may have occurred during your knee surgery, it doesn't necessarily mean the doctor was at fault. There are always risks in any medical procedure, that is why you are asked to sign consent forms. It's important to realize that your surgeon or medical practioner is not always responsible for adverse results stemming from your procedure.
It's important to note, to have a legitimate medical malpractice claim, your surgeon or doctor had to have been grossly negligent.
Anyone who has experienced a poor outcome from negligent knee replacement surgery should contact a personal injury attorney with experience in medical malpractice cases to evaluate the situation and determine if there is a cause of action. There are time limits on filing cases of this type, so it is important to consult with a personal injury and medical malpractice specialist as soon as problems arise.
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Due to the nature of our small practice, we are unable to take every case, but we always strive to connect clients with the right attorney for them. We are happy to set up referrals to other attorneys who may be better suited to assist you.