TN: Nigerian woman gets new 'knees' of life

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Chennai, Dec 9: With her left knee bent like ''C'' and the right like ''K,'' Ejike Eunice (70) of Nigerian orgin had not been able to focus on her textile business for the last two years suffering as she was from 'wind swept deformity' due to osteoarthritis.

The 'obese' grandmother settled in Togu of West Africa had to take the help of a walking stick for her knees started bending more and more.

All this until she came in a wheel chair to the Bharathiraja Speciality Hospital in the city on Novemeber 19.

Now, after successfully undergoing Double Minimally Invasive Bilateral Gender-specific Hi-flex Knee Replacements, the first African woman to undergo such a procedure in the hospital, a beaming Ejike Eunice is all set to ''walk'' out of the hospital by the end of this month, without any assistance.

Hospital Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon A K Venkatachalam, who performed the unique surgery over two sessions lasting about two and half hours each, said she was suffering from what was termed in medical parlance as 'wind swept deformity' for the last ten years.

Ejike Eunice's knees started bending progressively over the years. Though she approached several hospitals in Africa, they could not help as she was told there was no standard cure besides citing exorbitant treatment costs.

Dr Venkatachalam said the procedure involved an incision of only 4-5 inches unlike a conventional procedure where it could be as deep as eight inches. This approach spared cutting through the thigh muscles and hence there was less post-operative pain and blood loss besides early recovery.

''It is more difficult to do and takes slightly more time than a conventional knee replacement. But the end results are more gratifying to the patient,'' he added.

He said the 'gender-specific knee solution' was the only one of its kind built to suit the female anatomy accurately. Problems of over size and patellar tracking have been eliminated from the older prosthesis in this new knee implant.

The added advantage of the gender-specific knee was it allowed high flexion or greater knee bending. The user can sit cross-legged and squat on the floor.

The total cost came to nearly Rs 3.5 lakh whereas in western countries a similar surgery could cost 6,000 US dollar per knee, he claimed.

Franca, the patient's daughter, said the hospital provided very good treatment and and expressed confidence that her mother could walk out of the hospital on her own without the walking stick, and concentrate on her textile business back home.

The woman, who was under post-operative care, was likely to be discharged by the end of this month.

UNI

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