Duncan Faircloth

 Knee Arthroscopy

Forty-five years ago I had a cartilage removed from my right knee. It was a very successful operation and allowed me to play many demanding sports (except rugby and soccer) to a high competitive standard. Although the knee would occasionally swell up, an icepack and a good massage would bring the swelling down pretty quickly.

At the beginning of February my wife and I spent a weekend in Stratford watching three Shakespeare plays  not exactly physically demanding but it culminated in my right knee totally locking with accompanying excruciating pain. Rapid change of plans saw me in A&E in South West London and several hours later I emerged on crutches, knee drained and thankfully unlocked.

What then? Both my daughter and son in law are medical professionals, so there was no shortage of advice, and as far as knees were concerned they both had no hesitation in recommending me to see Mr McDermott. Fortunately I was able to arrange a consultation with him in four days time at the Northwood Clinic.

Despite the drama of my situation, Mr McDermott was unfazed and this gave me a great deal of confidence. Using the set of X-rays taken in clinic he explained clearly and carefully the difference between them and an undamaged knee joint.. He gave me two options – I could wait until the knee had settled down fully and then make a decision on whether to perform an arthroscopy, or go ahead straight away. Given my past history, it was, he explained unlikely that the situation would need no intervention, so I decided to go for immediate surgery.

I was most impressed with the way in which I was fitted in to Mr McDermott’s operating schedule. I was in the operating theatre only nine days after my knee had locked in Stratford – not exactly a planned operation but very professionally handled. An arthroscopy can be done on a day outpatient basis or stay overnight and be discharged the next morning. Due to distance from home, age and possibility of a not quite standard arthroscopy, I opted to stay overnight. This proved to be sensible and also gave me the benefit of some immediate physiotherapy before being discharged.

Mr McDermott saw me prior to going down to theatre and also early the next morning after the operation. On both occasions he gave me confidence that all was well and everything was under control. Despite his showing me part of the operation video and how much had been flushed out of my knee, I felt confident that what had come out was better out (including a piece of loose bone over an inch long) and that he had done a great job! He also thoughtfully kept my wife informed of progress.

I saw Mr McDermott a week after the operation for a review and removal of the stitches. For absolute safety I was using crutches, but Mr McDermott saw no reason why I should continue using them beyond what I felt was comfortable. He was pleased with my progress and saw no reason why my knee should not get back to the strength and flexibility prior to the ‘locking’, but made it clear that progress to that end was now in my own hands and whether I was prepared to do the rehab exercises that my physiotherapist would set out for me.

Mr McDermott took the time to write a letter to my physiotherapist setting out exactly what had been done and with suggestions on the strengthening of specific muscles around the knee. I had my first physiotherapy session a few days later, followed by another a week afterwards and then a final session two weeks after that. All the time it was stressed that if I did the rehab exercises daily and did three gym sessions a week I might well be playing golf again within 6 weeks of the operation. I religiously followed the exercise routine and in fact managed to play nine holes of golf in a snowstorm on Easter Monday, which was five weeks after my operation. I was really pleased that I had put in the effort and also able to benefit from the basic level of fitness which I had managed to maintain over the years.

I don’t know how many sportsmen see Mr McDermott with their knee problems, but from my experience of his expertise and professionalism, I would have no hesitation in recommending them to see him and benefit from his knowledge and care, whatever the state of their knees.

28 March 2008

March 2008