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A new knee and a new life in one day

new knee and new life in one day
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John Figaro lives a big, physically demanding life: As a metal fabricator, he’s on his feet eight hours a day, carrying and working with 60 pound steel sheets. After work, three children keep him and his wife on the run.

But despite his tough-it-out character, nothing prepared him for the excruciating pain that literally brought him to his knees. The cause was severe, debilitating arthritis which had developed because Figaro was born bowlegged.

Because Figaro’s legs flexed both outward and backward, the strain eventually caused the protective cushiony cartilage in his inner knees to wear out. Without a cushion, his knee bones rubbed together resulting in horrible stiffness, decreased range of motion and life-altering discomfort.

Figaro met with Mark Sobel, MD, Virtua orthopaedic surgeon. Dr. Sobel: “John was lucky. Only the inner portions of his knees were damaged, so he was an ideal candidate for partial knee replacement.”

Rajesh Jain, MD, another Virtua orthopaedic surgeon who performs partial knee replacements, explains: “In these procedures, the surgeon only replaces about one-third of the knee with an artificial device – unlike a total knee replacement where a whole new artificial knee is required.”

A partial knee replacement is a minimally invasive procedure with a smaller, three- to four-inch incision. Patients usually experience less pain and get back on their feet faster. Figaro arrived at Virtua in the morning and left that same day.

“Late in the afternoon, on the same day as my surgery, I actually walked out of the hospital – using a walker and my brand new knee. Now that is a miracle,” exclaims Figaro.

Virtua surgeons are among the few in the region who regularly perform partial knee replacements as same-day procedures.

Just 11 days after his first partial knee replacement, Dr. Sobel replaced Figaro’s other damaged knee. Today, with two new knees and fully recovered from surgery, Figaro says, “I’m back to the life I always wanted at work and at home – pain-free on the factory floor and free to run with my kids – everywhere.”