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Author Topic: For those that have had failed / unnecessary surgeries....  (Read 308 times)

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Offline willp

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For those that have had failed / unnecessary surgeries....
« on: September 22, 2020, 01:09:06 PM »
Hi everyone,

I've been posting on this board on and off since 2006, when I made the fateful decision to go ahead with an 'exploratory' scope for what - in retrospect - was extremely minor knee pain caused by overtraining for a marathon. At the time, I was a Brit living in NYC (and horribly naive about the financial incentives in the US health system and the ethics of certain surgeons). I now live back in London.

My story is detailed elsewhere for anyone interested. My surgeon phoned me at home to suggest the surgery (at the time I thought that was just great care), promised me that I'd be back at a freelance job requiring me to be on my feet for 14 hours a day for 5 days just 3 weeks later, said there was NO risk or early arthritis from knee surgery, and that I'd be doing a triathlon three months later. He guaranteed that I wouldn't be worse off after surgery. He also never referred me to physio and embezzled me out of a co-pay, which was refunded when I challenged him. (I'm happy to share his name in a PM to anyone considering surgery in NYC.)

All of his reassurances, needless to say, were lies. I developed severe arthrofibrosis, chronic pain and was unable to walk properly. When I saw him last, three months after he operated, he washed his hands of me and asked me not to return in person - just phone him.   

I required a second surgery which - thankfully - was done by the wonderful Dr Steadman in Colorado. I can't tell you how grateful I am to him and his team. I returned to near normal activities, though my knee was never the same. However, 14 years later, I'm once again having problems with the knee. I won't go into details here, as that's not the focus of this post, but I will mention that both of the orthopaedists I've recently seen in London have said clearly (as did Dr Steadman) that I never needed the first procedure and that the 'cowboy' was the cause of my current problems. One also said that plica removal (one of the procedures I had) was what surgeons did when they needed 'to pay school fees'.

Returning to this board after ages away, it's really striking how many people have had similar experiences with useless/uneeded surgery  - and plenty haven't had the benefit of a successful revision surgery, however temporary the effects. The problem seems to be worse in the US, though the UK and elsewhere certainly aren't immune. It's heartbreaking to read stories of people who've been talked into procedures that have led to a massive reduction in their quality of life, caused years of physical and mental pain, stopped people doing activities they love, and affected relationships with family and friends. There are several threads on this board where people have come round from surgery to find themselves with almost no meniscus.

There are many wonderful, compassionate, conservative OS's out there - I've been lucky enough to meet several, and to have been operated on by one. But there's also a significant minority who casually ruin people's lives and then walk away with a large payday and without a second thought.

My question to those people who have unfortunately found themselves in this situation is: what did you do? Were you able to find some way of dealing with what happened that brought some form of closure? Did you talk to the surgeon about what had happened? Did you contact professional bodies and complain?

Personally, I decided to focus exclusively on doing what I could to get better. I've never contacted the first surgeon. That path came at a significant mental and financial cost, but it led me to Dr Steadman.

However, 14  years later, as I enter my fourth month with knee problems caused by my first surgery, and find myself contemplating that I may have to give up the sports I love, and face a long term reduction in activity levels, I can't help but feel huge resentment and anger towards my first surgeon, who's directly responsible for this.

He's still practicing in NYC, and listed as a 'Top Doctor.  He often gets high reviews online (though a couple have hinted he's still scalpel happy). He's not the one who's had to live with my post surgical knee.

There's no single answer to my question - it's more of a cry of frustration, but I'm really curious how how others have coped in this situation and if the path you took gave any emotional or physical relief.....

Thanks, and I hope you're all doing well.




Medial plica removal 4/12/06. Not referred to PT. Increasing pain and quad weakness. Diagnosed with scar tissue by Dr Steadman 10/12/06, LOA and AIR in Vail 12/15/06. Returned to high level activities 4 14 years.
2020 - flare up with medial joint line pain and occasional collapse. Currently baffled

Offline The KNEEguru

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Re: For those that have had failed / unnecessary surgeries....
« Reply #1 on: September 23, 2020, 10:05:18 AM »
It seems that a plica removal is often the trigger to more complex problems, especially stiff knee. I think that the really thick plica which is clearly catching and damaging the joint surface may be a candidate for removal, but then the patient needs to be instructed carefully on patellar mobilisations, icing, ROM etc so that sequelae such as yours do not follow. There is no justification these days to remove a plica just because it is seen co-incidentally during arthroscopy.

I had a plica removed in about 2000 with immediate improvement in the catching symptoms I had been experiencing, but I was astonished at the very bad time I had from then on - especially stiffness with severe pain on trying to bend. Being a blasť doctor I was sure I could do my own rehabilitation, but I ended up with painful stiffness that took years to improve, although the ROM gradually returned on its own. 

I think that physiotherapy is absolutely essential after removal of a truly SYMPTOMATIC and properly investigated plica, and that casual removal of non-symptomatic plica just because it is spotted during arthroscopy is totally contraindicated.
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Offline willp

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Re: For those that have had failed / unnecessary surgeries....
« Reply #2 on: September 23, 2020, 11:27:57 AM »
Thanks for the reply - it's very interesting to read what you say about plicas and stiffness. Mine was impinging on the femoral condyle, with grade 2 changes where that happened. I certainly had absolutely no information about patella mobilisations or anything like that - at least not until I went to Dr Steadman for my second surgery.

What's so frustrating now is that I did make it back to almost all my old activities post my surgery in Vail - though my knee was never the same, and I've never run another marathon. But I've taken a very sudden (literally overnight) turn for the worse. I just woke up with stiffness, night pain and a grinding sensation that has never really gone away, and then - later -  my knee collapsed on me several times.

Trying to get to the bottom of it and work out my options, but I find it very hard to believe that I'd be in this situation were it not for my surgery 14 years ago.....
Medial plica removal 4/12/06. Not referred to PT. Increasing pain and quad weakness. Diagnosed with scar tissue by Dr Steadman 10/12/06, LOA and AIR in Vail 12/15/06. Returned to high level activities 4 14 years.
2020 - flare up with medial joint line pain and occasional collapse. Currently baffled

Online Vickster

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Re: For those that have had failed / unnecessary surgeries....
« Reply #3 on: September 23, 2020, 11:37:01 AM »
Those sound quite like symptoms of arthritis. Have you had an X-ray and MRI?
Good luck :)
Came off bike onto concrete 9/9/09
LK arthroscopy 8/2/10
2nd scope on 16/12/10
RK arthroscopy on 5/2/15
Lateral meniscus trim, excision of hoffa's fat pad, chondral stabilisation
LK scope 10.1.19 medial menisectomy, trochlea microfracture, general tidy up

Offline willp

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Re: For those that have had failed / unnecessary surgeries....
« Reply #4 on: September 23, 2020, 12:42:02 PM »
Hi Vickster - yes, I know they're the classic symptoms of arthritis. And that was my assumption when they began.  I've now had two MRIs (no X Rays), one 1.5t and one 3t. However, the reports and appraisals of OS's differ slightly.

I have either 3 or 4  small lesions, though I'm unsure of their grade and size. At least two of them were present on a 2016 MRI, and caused me few issues. One was present in 2006. Apparently they have either not grown since then, or improved.  The first OS I saw said ( I quote):

"I have been through the last two MRI scan reports and images with him today and these show a knee that is in remarkably good condition."

The second OS thought that an asymptomatic meniscal tear that was identified on MRi  in 2016 may have become symptomatic.

I'm finding it hard to pin down the exact amount of damage to my knee, but overall the cartilage appears generally relatively well preserved, given my surgical history, age (52) and activity levels. So while I certainly have 'wear and tear', I don't seem to have full blown 'arthritis'. (I know these definitions overlap and are hard to distinguish.)

I'm getting a third opinion from an OS who is himself an endurance athlete tomorrow. If nothing else this will hopefully give me an idea of my future activity levels. What's so frustrating about this is that I was able to go for an 11 mile run 9 days before the night pains started, with no problems at all.

To be honest, I was expecting a MRI report of severe cartilage degeneration since 2016 (my last scan), but that doesn't seem to have happened as dramatically as I feared.

Anyway, hopefully tomorrow will tell me more....






Medial plica removal 4/12/06. Not referred to PT. Increasing pain and quad weakness. Diagnosed with scar tissue by Dr Steadman 10/12/06, LOA and AIR in Vail 12/15/06. Returned to high level activities 4 14 years.
2020 - flare up with medial joint line pain and occasional collapse. Currently baffled

Offline willp

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Re: For those that have had failed / unnecessary surgeries....
« Reply #5 on: September 23, 2020, 01:46:52 PM »
Perhaps another thing to quickly add is that I know that - Ďfull blowní arthritis or not - my twice operated on knee is likely on a path towards that.

And that was one of my specific questions to my first OS. Would I be more at risk of premature arthritis  after surgery? I was - wrongly -  assured that I wouldnít be.

This obviously causes me huge sadness and frustration, and was one of the main reasons for my original post. Iím a passionate runner, competitive in my age group, and Iíve generally been extremely active throughout my life. The idea of that being taken away because of one manís unscrupulousness and greed is profoundly depressing.

And I know plenty of other people on this board are sadly in similar situations.
Medial plica removal 4/12/06. Not referred to PT. Increasing pain and quad weakness. Diagnosed with scar tissue by Dr Steadman 10/12/06, LOA and AIR in Vail 12/15/06. Returned to high level activities 4 14 years.
2020 - flare up with medial joint line pain and occasional collapse. Currently baffled

Offline SuspectDevice

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Re: For those that have had failed / unnecessary surgeries....
« Reply #6 on: September 28, 2020, 11:07:24 PM »
You'll find this problem here in Australia too - unnecessary knee surgeries.

As described elsewhere, both my knees went into meltdown (chronic synovitis etc. as described by Dr Scott Dye) after a partial medial meniscus trim.  This trim was needed however as the loose piece was causing the knee to lock & chaffing the cartilage on the end of my femur.  The later I made worse by continuing to cycle prior to having the surgery & I still pay for that chaffing today.

However, once my knees went into meltdown, I went to numerous 'specialists' who all mis-diagnosed me (despite even suggesting synovitis to one).  Some suggested surgery might be an option, but thankfully my original OS advised against it.  8 years on, I have largely solved the problem myself, though my knees will never be good enough to do long course triathlon again, only sprint races.  Still, that's fine compared to where I was at.

Currently experimenting with a big diet change (less carbs, minimal gluten, more meat) to see if that helps with general body inflammation.

After I discovered my problem, I emailed all the 'experts' to tell them what I'd discovered & to revisit Dr Scott Dyes work.  I even offered to make a presentation on my case to the Australian Assoc. of Orthopedic Surgeons.

The silence was deafening  ::)
L Medial menisectomy 2012
PFPS both knees 2012-2017
Pre-CRPS diagnosed 2014 (I think this was crap)
2017 - 90+% cured via Dr Dye's research
2018 - MTB crash, busted collarbone & ribs - easy compared to knees!
2020 - ride 3x/week, swim 2x/week, gym 2x/week, aiming to get back to short triathlons

Offline Brandon123

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Re: For those that have had failed / unnecessary surgeries....
« Reply #7 on: September 29, 2020, 03:16:09 PM »

Currently experimenting with a big diet change (less carbs, minimal gluten, more meat) to see if that helps with general body inflammation.


Please keep us updated on how this experiment goes :)
RK sharp pain while running, diagnosis chondromalacia patellae 6/09
RK arthroscopic chondroplasty 9/09
RK rehab, recovery, 90% normal, started running again -> back to square one 5/15
RK diagnosis patellofemoral arthritis + LK diagnosis chondromalacia patellae 8/15 -> conservative treatment

Online Vickster

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Re: For those that have had failed / unnecessary surgeries....
« Reply #8 on: September 29, 2020, 05:00:41 PM »
Isnít meat (at least red meat) also inflammatory however? Although perhaps not as much as sugar and white carbs. A plant based diet is potentially better?
Came off bike onto concrete 9/9/09
LK arthroscopy 8/2/10
2nd scope on 16/12/10
RK arthroscopy on 5/2/15
Lateral meniscus trim, excision of hoffa's fat pad, chondral stabilisation
LK scope 10.1.19 medial menisectomy, trochlea microfracture, general tidy up

Offline ripnriding

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Re: For those that have had failed / unnecessary surgeries....
« Reply #9 on: September 29, 2020, 05:40:25 PM »
WOW...luckily I found this forum.  I'm 9 weeks (today) post injury and a day after my ortho consult here in Kingston Ontario Canada.  I've returned to MTB at almost 100 % and have gingerly returned back to enduro moto riding recently as well.  My injury occurred while training for an enduro race and a MRI painted a pretty grim picture.

My consult yesterday had surgeon present to me with a "2-stage" approach with the first to scope and clean up the physical body that is limiting my end range of motion.  I can't fully straighten the knee or fully flex due to a mechanical block in the knee. I CAN, however, ride my MTB on technical terrain and for good 100 percent efforts for a satiating duration of 1-2 hours without issue.  I wear custom CTI braces for moto and just the one on the affected knee for aggressive MTB.

Luckily the proposed scope for THIS friday was declined because I already booked a weekend away with my young family for a little nature reprieve...after reading your story....I think I'll put off the scope and see how much range of motion I continue to gain over the next few weeks...At the age of 48 and someone who doesn't have to "cut and pivot" for fun.....food for thought about getting surgical devices inserted into my knee for the opportunity to teach a resident his skillsets in the theatre...hmmmmm

Offline SuspectDevice

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Re: For those that have had failed / unnecessary surgeries....
« Reply #10 on: October 04, 2020, 10:13:58 PM »
Isnít meat (at least red meat) also inflammatory however? Although perhaps not as much as sugar and white carbs. A plant based diet is potentially better?

There is much questioning these days of the standard dietary advice (e.g. lots of fruit & veg are good for you).

I suspect it varies enormously from person to person - some do well on plant based, some do better on meat based.  And all will do better on less processed carbs & sugar.
L Medial menisectomy 2012
PFPS both knees 2012-2017
Pre-CRPS diagnosed 2014 (I think this was crap)
2017 - 90+% cured via Dr Dye's research
2018 - MTB crash, busted collarbone & ribs - easy compared to knees!
2020 - ride 3x/week, swim 2x/week, gym 2x/week, aiming to get back to short triathlons















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