Distal femoral osteotomy enables Jackie to climb 4,000 metres to Kyanjin Gompa in the Langtang mountains in Nepal.

Following a devastating road traffic accident in her youth, Jackie makes life changing recovery following surgery.

Jackie, an avid walker, experienced a serious traffic accident in her teenage years that left her with a broken pelvis and tibia (shin bone). Following the accident, Jackie had also caught sepsis, which was very traumatic. Over time, Jackie went into valgus (knock kneed) on her left side and developed arthritis on the outer side of her knee.

Jackie was keen to stay active, keep her leg moving and undertake physiotherapy to keep the leg strong. As Jackie aged, she experienced wear and tear which was disproportionate due to her previous injuries. This resulted in a lot of pain, swelling and numerous meniscus tears. Her knee began to collapse inwards which caused further damage to the joint. Jackie had two arthroscopies, which helped initially but the pain began to get intolerable.

The pain stopped Jackie from enjoying daily activities and trekking in India, Nepal and over European Mountains with her husband. Her pain impacted her family life as she found it difficult to do the activities her teenage children and husband enjoy.

Initially, Jackie booked an appointment with her local GP and was referred to Mr Khakha. Mr Khakha explained that as the knee was collapsing inwards, physiotherapy would not have made any positive impact, as the knee was not performing as it should do biomechanically. This meant that she could not build muscle in her legs to support the knee.

At first, Jackie was offered joint replacement surgery but, given her level of activity and alignment, Mr Khakha discussed a realignment osteotomy and planned to perform a distal femoral osteotomy. Jackie explains: “The thought of an Osteotomy was scary, as my problems were all about having broken bones and subsequent infection. I was nervous about the risks but Mr Khakha was so clear, precise and focused and able to communicate the process and plan in detail. It made sense and I felt such confidence in him as a competent surgeon; the risks were worth it because the possible gains were so great.” 

Mr Khakha explained that he could see from the preoperative images that Jackie’s weight bearing axis almost missed her lateral compartment (outer side) of the knee. He also noticed significant arthritis in the lateral compartment of her knee. Mr Khakha and his dedicated team performed a distal femoral osteotomy and got her alignment to neutral, as planned.

Following her successful surgery, Jackie has been able to do all of the activities she enjoys, and, of particular note, she recently travelled to Nepal where she climbed to Kyanjin Gompa in the Langtang mountains. Jackie spent 6 days trekking 4,000 metres in high altitude, carrying 12-13 kilos each day. She reports having “no issues with her leg whatsoever” and “could not have dreamt of doing this postoperatively.” Jackie feels that her surgery has “changed her life and has reversed so much of the effects of the accident when she was 16.” 

Jackie’s advice for people in similar situations is as follows: “It’s well worth the operation. The only thing I was scared of was the risk of infection, due to previous experience. I have no hesitation in recommending Mr Khakha. It is really crucial to do the recommended physiotherapy before your operation, as it makes all the difference to the rehabilitation after the surgery. Get your other leg strong to help the other leg recover; it means that you can mobilise the same day as your operation on crutches!” 

To summarise her overall experience with Mr Khakha, Jackie explains that: “So many things come together to make the surgeon someone you can trust. Mr Khakha was the archetype of a good surgeon; with such kindness, empathy, and skill you feel very safe in his hands. He understands that this is a difficult experience for a patient. The efficiency about him was very reassuring and his skill, intuition and precision came together.”

Mr Khakha concludes: “I am really pleased Jackie has done so well post-operatively.  She is able to do all the activities she enjoys and has no issues with her leg whatsoever.” 

June 2020