A Tragic Tale of Unnecessary Knee Replacement and Amputation

A Tragic Tale of Unnecessary Knee Replacement and Amputation

Kathy’s story is a tragic tale of a misdiagnosis leading to unnecessary knee replacement and amputation. We are sharing her experience in hopes of reaching other patients like her who may be able to avoid the mistakes made by her doctors.

An injury at work left Kathy with chronic knee pain. An orthopedic surgeon suggested a total knee arthroplasty. Kathy agreed.

But after surgery, she continued to have severe pain. Unfortunately, the only solution her surgeon could think of was to replace the prosthetic knee.

This vicious cycle continued and Kathy endured two additional knee arthroplasties. Complications following the third knee arthroplasty left Kathy with no alternative but an above-knee amputation (AKA).

Following the amputation, Kathy developed horrible phantom pain as well as severe residual limb pain in the end of her stump. While the phantom pain was bad, the residual limb pain was more debilitating because it prevented Kathy from being able to wear a prosthetic leg, thus confining her to a wheelchair.

True Source of Pain: Damage to Peripheral Nerves

The real tragedy of Kathy’s story is that it could have almost certainly been prevented had she found Dr. Tollestrup earlier.

In Dr. Tollestrup’s opinion, the most likely cause of Kathy’s original knee pain was damaged peripheral nerves. Sadly, with a knee denervation surgery by Dr. Tollestrup, the knee replacement surgeries and subsequent amputation could have been avoided.

Kathy finally found Dr. Tollestrup. He diagnosed the source of her pain as coming from the multiple neuromas which had formed on the ends of all the nerves that were cut through when the leg was amputated.

Dr. Tollestrup performed two cutting-edge surgical procedures involving a combination of disconnecting the smaller damaged nerves and sewing cadaveric nerve grafts to the larger damaged nerves to prevent re-formation of the painful neuromas. This is a highly complex surgery that Dr. Tollestrup is uniquely qualified to do.

Second Chance: Out of the Wheelchair and Back to Active Life

It has now been about a year and a half since Kathy’s first surgery. Her phantom pain is almost completely gone. The residual limb pain is also drastically improved. It is not completely gone but is down to such a mild level that she is no longer taking pain medication. She is now able to wear her prosthetic leg as much as she wants to without experiencing the horrible pain that she used to. This has freed her from the confines of her wheelchair which has been life-changing for her.

Kathy is looking forward to getting back to a much more active lifestyle again.

If you or someone you know has a peripheral nerve injury or pain of an undiagnosed peripheral nerve origin, Dr. Tollestrup may be able to help. Please fill out a form on the right or call the office at 702-666-0463.

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