Aged six, Heike developed severe osteomyelitis (bone infection) in her proximal tibia (shin bone), and as a result had a growth arrest. Since having numerous operations and lengthening procedures in Germany as a teenager, she has had significant pain, particularly medially (inside of the knee). This got to the point where she had severe pain when starting to move and struggled to get out of a chair. She could only walk short distances, had difficulty with stairs and was diagnosed with osteoarthritis.
Aged 50, her GP referred her to a knee-specialist, who considered her an ideal candidate for an osteotomy and therefore referred her to Professor Adrian Wilson for his specialist expertise. Professor Wilson diagnosed the main problem as Heike’s medial osteoarthritis and carried out an osteotomy in January 2018, correcting the femur with an opening wedge.
Before the operation, Heike had struggled to straighten her leg, but could now get her knee flat and her leg is now correctly aligned. Heike says: “My expectations were for me to be pain-free. My expectations have not only been met, they have been exceeded: my knee is no longer bent, and my range of movement has increased significantly. Prof Wilson was able to reduce the difference in my leg length by a further 7mm. I am no longer waking up during the night due to pains in my leg and my leg feels stronger. I am hoping that once the metal plates have been removed, that this will further increase strength building and range of movement.”
Heike was very pleased with the amount of information Professor Wilson provided her with before committing to surgery and praises his accessibility to answer any questions or concerns she had at every stage. Her recovery took six months, which was longer than she expected, but felt “thoroughly looked after” by Professor Wilson and his team during this period. She adds: “Just knowing that I could contact Professor Wilson at any time was hugely comforting. I didn’t expect to be completely pain-free but the fact that I am, together with the other benefits I gained with the surgery, make me very, very happy!”
Professor Wilson concludes: “Before the operation we had 15° of varus and 10° of fixed flexion – in other words Heike struggled to straighten her leg . Since the surgery she now can get her knee flat and no longer has her fixed flexion deformity. I’m happy to report that the alignment leg is now straight. More importantly I’m delighted to say that she now has no pain and even went on a walking holiday a few months back.”
Update February 2020
Heike has now had her plates removed and is back hiking and spinning and has her life back.