Windsor woman first in the area with new knee surgery

Published 9:27 pm Monday, September 8, 2008

Having a procedure the surgeon has never done before might scare some people.

Dotti Holland was nervous about it, at first. Then she changed her mind.

On July 14, Holland became the first patient of Anthony DiStasio II, who did a bi-compartmental knee replacement on Holland’s left knee. The knee replacement, known as the Journey Deuce Bi-Compartmental Knee System, is a relatively new type of knee replacement that removes less bone and does not sever the ligaments, allowing the patient to have a faster recovery time with less pain and stiffness.

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“It’s been the best choice that I ever made,” said Holland, a Windsor resident.

Holland has had knee pain ever since she was a young teenager. At the age of 16, she was diagnosed with arthritis under her kneecaps. She couldn’t do much in physical education class at school, and the pain only got worse throughout her life. Many times, doctors would draw large amounts of fluid off her knees when the swelling and pain were unbearable.

That all changed last year, when DiStasio did a knee replacement for Holland’s aunt, who was 91 years old at the time.

“I was very impressed with his surgery on her knee and the treatment she received from him and the Sports Medicine and Orthopaedic Center,” she said.

It was after her aunt’s surgery that Holland began to feel that something wasn’t right.

“I was the one with the cane and everybody thought I was holding her cane,” Holland said. “The cane was for me.”

Holland asked DiStasio if he could help her. He began giving her injections that helped a little, but not for long. Then, he mentioned the new knee replacement he’d just been trained to do – the Journey Deuce bicompartmental knee system, made by Smith and Nephew, Inc.

However, there was just one problem. If Holland agreed to let DiStasio do the surgery, she would be his first one.

“I had so many people who told me that I should not do this new surgery and never be the first one,” she said.

However, she told DiStasio she would think about it. It didn’t take her long to come to a decision.

“When you get to the point you can’t walk, that’s when you make up your mind,” Holland said.

The night before her surgery, Holland was in tears trying to get around the house with a walker on wheels. The day after her surgery, she walked down the hall of the hospital and up and down the stairwell.

A little over a month later, she attended a cocktail party in high heels and stayed for three hours. Though her feet were killing her, she joked, her knees were fine.

The difference between the Deuce Knee system and a normal knee replacement is that doctors are able to work around the ligaments instead of cutting them, DiStasio said. With a normal knee replacement, ligaments are cut and more bone is removed, resulting in more pain, more stiffness and loss of mobility, and other complications. The incision with the bicompartmental knee replacement is smaller. In addition, those knees usually wore out before the patient died.

“We want the knees to last a lifetime,” DiStasio said. Doctors expect the Deuce Knee system to be able to last longer.

The Deuce Knee system replaces only the two parts of the knee that are worn out, DiStasio said.

“What we have mimics the knee better,” he said. “It’s a minimally invasive approach. We only removed damaged tissue, leaving healthy tissue alone.”

The Deuce Knee system is being directed toward younger people and athletes because they are more likely to need a sturdier knee and to notice a difference in “feel,” DiStasio said.

The Deuce Knee system could benefit up to 70 percent of patients would normally receive a total knee replacement. It is especially beneficial to patients with arthritis under the knee cap and in the inner half of the knee.

DiStasio said he appreciated Holland being his first Deuce Knee replacement patient.

“She was a little nervous,” he said. “She was the first at Obici, first in Western Tidewater. Nobody’s done a lot of them around here.” Since Holland, he has done another one, and has yet another scheduled for this month.

Holland’s physical therapist, Jennifer Cowand, at Sports Medicine and Orthopaedic Center, said there has been a noticeable difference between Holland and other knee replacement patients.

“It’s been a lot quicker,” she said. “I’ve almost had to hold her back.”

Holland said she’s very pleased with her surgery and with DiStasio and the people at Sports Medicine and Orthopaedic Center.

“I feel that I have been blessed to have a doctor as wonderful as Dr. DiStasio,” Holland said. “The therapy department is excellent. They’re very professional and friendly.”

DiStasio said he expects the Deuce Knee to become very popular.

“There’s something new being done … and you don’t have to travel to have it done,” he said. “It’s done at Obici, it’s done at Suffolk, and I think it’s going to become very popular.”