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Published on April 09, 2012

A double-knee replacement for Nancy Spears

A Step in the Right Direction

SpearsNancy Spears raised six children, often cares for at least one of her 20 grandchildren and loves to snuggle with her three great-grandchildren. So it comes as no surprise to anyone that 61-year-old Nancy leads a very active lifestyle! Even after she began suffering pain in both knees—nearly 20 years ago—she kept on moving. But by December 2011, the pain became intolerable, and Nancy turned to Menachem Meller, MD, PhD, chief of orthopedics at Mercy Philadelphia Hospital.

“The pain was so bad, I could barely go grocery shopping anymore,” Nancy recalls. “I had to lean on the cart for support. And that’s when my primary care physician referred me to Dr. Meller.”

A Step in the Right Direction

After examining Nancy’s left and right knees, Dr. Meller found that the cushioning cartilage in the patient’s joints had worn away, which meant that bone rubbed against bone when Nancy walked—and thus the excruciating pain. The solution, both patient and physician agreed, was surgery to replace both knee joints.

“When I woke up in recovery after the surgery, the only thing I felt was joy,” Nancy explains. “What I didn’t feel was pain. It had been years since I felt that good. Sure, there was some soreness where Dr. Meller made the incisions for the prostheses, but there was no pain.”

Going the Extra Mile

While Nancy is quick to praise Mercy Philadelphia’s orthopedic program, the topic she often returns to is her stress-free and remarkably swift recovery.

It’s not unusual for our joint replacement patients to be up and walking the day following surgery,” Dr. Meller reports. “Our results often exceed the accepted guidelines for what a patient is expected to achieve in a given time.”

These welcome post-operative results are in part due to Mercy Philadelphia’s progressive approach to pain management. “We never focus on narcotics after surgery, which can start a downward spiral that interferes with rehab,” Dr. Meller stresses. “We focus on anti-inflammatory and peripheral pain medications along with physical modalities that also help control swelling and pain. It works and our patients are much happier.”

To further strengthen the recovery pathway, a Mercy rehab home care nurse routinely visited Nancy once she returned home.

Moving Forward

In addition to Mercy Philadelphia’s orthopedic team of expert physicians and surgeons, specially trained nurses and certified physical therapists, Nancy’s full recovery also ties back to the technologically advanced implants used.

We work with joint replacements that have never been recalled and have a higher degree of success,” Dr. Meller stresses. For total hip joint replacements, the team often selects prostheses with a ceramic head, which increase longevity and decrease potential problems. For knee joint replacements, the team works with a prosthesis that has an innovative singleradius design, excellent range of motion, and is gender-specific.

This attention to detail and exemplary patient care contributes to the success of Mercy Health System’s orthopedic program. Dr. Meller concludes, “My greatest rewards are my patients. We never have to do repeat joint replacements, which means our patients are enjoying life.”

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