Safety before surgery, but the date is coming!

Posted on 2 June 2020

Mrs Denise Rademeyer, 68, will be undergoing her long awaited total knee replacement surgery in early June after a short delay caused by COVID-19. A surprise positive result for COVID-19 was the reason for this interruption to the plan.

“My surgery was planned for April, but Lockdown meant that it had to be delayed,” explains Mrs Rademeyer. The plan was to proceed as soon as the surgeries were back on schedule.

The disruption came with a positive COVID-19 result. According to Dr Dirk Nell, Orthopaedic surgeon at Mediclinic Louis Leipoldt, “Mediclinic and the associated doctors have put in a massive effort to ensure that patients who come to hospital for elective procedures are exposed to the lowest COVID-19 risk possible. All patients admitted for elective surgery undergo multiple pre-operative COVID-19 screenings and are tested prior to surgery to limit the risk to the patient and hospital.”

Elective surgery refers to non-emergency procedures, and during COVID-19 stage four Lockdown only those elective surgeries are proceeding where the patient’s quality of life or health will deteriorate if the surgery is delayed. The clinical reasoning for the screening and testing is that there is substantial clinical evidence of increased risk during and post-surgery if the patient is COVID-19 positive. This means that only patients with a negative COVID-19 test are currently able to undergo elective surgery. This criterion does not influence emergency admissions or emergent-urgent surgery.

Dr Nell explains, “The screening and laboratory test acts as a protective measure for others, protecting them against exposure to a Covid positive patient while hospitalised. It also decreased Mrs Rademeyer’s risk for a severe course of COVID-19.”

Mrs Rademeyer is currently in a large amount of pain and her mobility is being heavily affected by her knee injury. “I was tested before my surgery in May, and you can imagine how surprised I was at the outcome,” she explains. Her COVID-19 symptoms were very mild, and consisted of about 4 days of flu symptoms. “I felt tired, had a headache, muscle pain and fever. I am a diabetic and have high blood pressure, cholesterol and osteoporosis. As a result, I take loads of vitamins. I just increased my intake of vitamin C and immune booster.  This as well as lots of sleep did the trick and I recovered quickly. I did not require hospital treatment and was able to self-isolate at home.” Mrs Rademeyer will be retested shortly before her scheduled surgery.

The knee replacement surgery was deemed necessary, as Mrs Rademeyer has been experiencing severe pain that worsened in the 6 months prior to her assessment. This was also hampering her lifestyle. The risks associated with surgery within this pandemic were clearly explained and it was felt that the surgery should proceed, as Mrs Rademeyer felt the discomfort necessitated it.

“Dr Nell has been so supportive, even though this type of illness is not in his normal scope of business. I don’t even know how I acquired the virus,” she explains.

Post-surgery, Mrs Rademeyer is expected to be in hospital for 2-3 days with further recovery at home. “I am looking forward to being able to walk pain free – it’s as simple as that.”



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