Knee Replacement Surgery
Everything You Should Know About Knee Replacement
Table Of Contents:
What is Knee Replacement Surgery?
What are the Benefits of This Type of Surgery?
Why You Should Choose Having your Knee Surgery Abroad
What are the Risks of Having Knee Arthroplasty Abroad?
When is Replacement Surgery Indicated?
Obtaining a Diagnosis
Keeping Your Expectations in Check Regarding Knee Arthroplasty
Preparing for Surgery
A Step by Step Guide to the Knee Replacement Operation
What are the Risks?
Complications with the Incision
Loss of Motion
How Much Does a Knee Replacement Cost?
The Recovery Process
Up to 3 Weeks After Surgery
4 to 6 Weeks After Surgery
7 to 11 Weeks After Knee Arthroplasty
12 Weeks After Surgery
Beyond Week 12
Additional Benefits of Having Your Knee Arthroplasty Abroad
Other Facts About the AIWA Clinic in Riga
Knee problems are no laughing matter. The knee is one of the most crucial joints in the body and when a person suffers degradation of the knee either through injury, illness or the wear and tear of age the quality and trajectory of that person’s life will be fundamentally altered. Until the first true knee replacement was performed in the early 1970s there wasn’t much a person with debilitating knee pain could do except stay off their feet and take pain killers. Today, however, total knee replacement has been refined and perfected and has quietly taken its place as one of the medical wonders of our day. Hundreds of thousands of these procedures are performed every year with many seeking knee replacement surgery abroad and others choosing the familiar confines of their local hospital. The net effect is that every year surgeons help hundreds of thousands of people reclaim their lives.
Replacement surgery (also called “knee arthroplasty”) is one of the safest and most effective methods ever devised for dealing with debilitating joint pain. While the techniques and materials have changed a bit over the past 40 years the basic premise has not: to remove diseased or damaged parts of the knee and replace them with a durable, reliable manmade knee joint that will effectively mimic natural movement. This artificial knee joint is engineered and built to exacting tolerances and during the construction phase the surgeon becomes equal parts medical professional and craftsman. The result is a rebuilt knee that is pain free and able to provide full range of motion. If you are sidelined by a diseased or damaged knee (or knees) this may be your best treatment option.
Although the benefits of total knee replacement are easy to quantify such is not necessarily the case with either partial knee replacement or double knee replacement surgery. So patients are cautioned to consult fully with their surgeon before deciding to undergo either of those procedures. That said, the overwhelming percentage of knee replacements will result in the alleviation of pain and discomfort in the knee or knees of afflicted individuals. Achieving this relief is the primary reason people decide to undergo this procedure. Additional benefits include the ability to regain full range of motion perhaps for the first time in years and the ability to return to a normal routine. And that’s about it. Freedom from pain and the return of a normal life. What more could you ask of a surgical procedure?
The benefits of having your knee replacement abroad are many and include substantial savings (even when airfares and hotels are factored in), no lengthy waiting lists, high quality medical staff and a more personal level of service than you’ll enjoy in many other western countries. Should you choose to have your surgery performed in Latvia you’ll also enjoy world class medical facilities, access to all the latest technology, the convenience of being only a few hours’ flight time from anywhere on the continent and some of the best educated surgeons in the world. And don’t forget the opportunity to squeeze in some travel to one of Europe’s most compelling destinations. Keep all of that in mind when making your determination regarding where to have your knee surgery in Europe.
If you travel from Europe to a popular medical tourism destination like Thailand you return home with a significant issue: follow up. Trekking halfway around the world for follow up visits simply isn’t practical in any sense of the word but it may become necessary if your local physician is unwilling to provide follow up care on someone else’s work. By contrast should you live in London and need to pay a follow up visit to your doctor at the AIWA Clinic in Riga the flight takes only 2 ½ hours, meaning you can leave after breakfast, arrive in Riga in time for lunch in the historic city centre, spend time with your doctor and then be back in London in time for dinner.
Another potential issue with having your knee replacement abroad is that of liability. Should you encounter complications or significant problems after returning home to England following your surgery in Thailand all we can say is “good luck” trying to get the surgeon to accept responsibility or in trying to collect damages. In fact, many countries that purport to be “havens” for medical tourists turn out to be nightmares due to the weak local laws governing accountability and the miniscule amounts of malpractice insurance doctors in these countries are required to carry. Latvia on the other hand is part of the European Union and expected to adhere to a much higher standard of accountability.
While surgery is the right choice for many people dealing with damaged or diseased knee joints it’s not necessarily for everyone and a person needs to discuss the matter thoroughly with their doctor before deciding to undergo the procedure. The orthopaedic surgeon will examine the affected knee or knees and after consulting with the patient determine whether replacement is appropriate. Total knee replacement is typically advised when the patient is experiencing severe pain and having trouble performing basic everyday functions such as walking and navigating stairs. Also if that the person is incapable of tending to their own needs and has to have someone else cook, clean and run errands for them.
While people of all ages undergo various types of knee replacement most who do are over the age of 50 and there’s a good reason for that. Most younger people who undergo surgery do so in response to a catastrophic injury. While with those over 50 the number of reasons expands to include everything from injury to various forms of arthritis and years of wear and tear. There are no weight restrictions but the doctor may advise that the patient try to shed some weight in the period leading up to surgery.
That said you may qualify for knee replacement surgery if any of the following apply to you.
– You are experiencing severe knee pain that has a limiting effect on your normal daily activities.
– You experience inflammation of the knee that is not responding to medications.
– Range of motion in your knee or knees has become severely limited.
– You experience continuous knee pain even while sleeping.
– Your knees have become bowed either inward or outward.
– Your knee pain is not relieved by NSAIDs.
– Your knee aches after even simple exertion.
– Your knee becomes stiff after sitting for an extended period.
– The pain has persisted for a prolonged period of time.
– You are forced to use a cane or other device to perform the simplest tasks.
– You feel a grinding sensation in your knee when you walk.
– You have previously injured your ACL (anterior cruciate ligament).
– A change in the weather causes swelling or stiffness in the knee.
– It takes you a considerable amount of time to loosen up the knee after you wake up.
In order to make an accurate diagnosis of your condition and determine whether you are a candidate for single or double knee replacement your orthopaedist will conduct a thorough examination of your knee or knees which will include testing for range of motion, strength, alignment and stability of the joint. They will also take and analyse a series of X-rays and conduct a general review of your overall physical condition. You’ll be asked a series of questions specifically related to the type and intensity of the pain you’re experiencing, whether this is a new phenomenon or something that has come and gone before, whether you suffer from any conditions that could be causing the knee pain (such as rheumatoid arthritis) and whether you have injured the knee in the past; even in the distant past. Keep in mind however that a recommendation of double knee replacement is rare for a great many reasons including the far lengthier and more complex recovery process involved.
Once you have answered all the questions to the satisfaction of the surgeon he or she may perform additional tests on the knee joint to be sure they have as clear a picture as possible of your situation before rendering a decision. As mentioned previously they may advise that you try to shed some weight prior to surgery, but in nearly every case weight by itself will not be a determining factor in whether or not to proceed.
Only in cases of morbid obesity is the patient’s weight likely to influence a determination to any degree. This is because the surgeons understand that the difficult task of losing weight is made even more difficult when patients have their mobility restricted by their knee condition. Therefore making weight loss a prerequisite would, in most cases, amount to a form of “Catch 22”: The patient can’t have surgery until they lose weight but they can’t lose weight until they have surgery. In cases of morbid obesity the patient may be advised to seek knee replacement alternatives but only if it seems inevitable that the excessive weight will undermine the results of any surgery.
While the knee replacement operation is likely to provide you both short and long term pain relief and allow you to regain your lost mobility it won’t give you the ability to do things you could not have done with a normal, healthy knee. In addition it’s important that you understand that, while total knee arthroplasty is considered a long-term solution, it’s not necessarily a permanent solution. So how long does a knee replacement last? You may need to undergo revision surgery in 10 or 15 years to replace most or all of the components of your artificial knee. The operative term here being “may”. Because when top quality components are implanted by skilled surgeons it’s also possible they will serve you well for 20 years or more.
That said, the ability to perform everyday tasks returns and with renewed mobility comes the chance to regain overall physical health. Exercises after knee replacement may include walking, bicycling, stair climbing, golf and other activities. You won’t be asked to overexert yourself however, as things like jogging or aerobics class could undermine the stability of the new knee joint and send you back to the hospital. So exercise following surgery is important, but moderation is crucial.
The total knee arthroplasty procedure is likely to inject new vitality into your life and allow you to return to doing many of the things you thought you’d never do again. It is a transformative procedure that has helped countless numbers of people regain control over their lives. About that there can be no doubt. However, it’s important to remember that knee arthroplasty is not a miracle cure and, perhaps most importantly, that it will require your active participation in the recovery process in order to be a long term success.
Your surgeon and his or her staff will make sure you are fully prepared to undergo the total knee arthroplasty procedure before the day arrives. They will provide advice and assistance in handling issues related to your medical insurance, conduct pre-operative tests to ensure nothing has changed since the initial evaluation and provide you with literature that will explain exactly how the entire process will unfold and what you can expect.
Anaesthesia options will be discussed and decided upon and you’ll be given an indication of how long you can expect to stay in hospital following the procedure and some recommendations for the days immediately following your discharge. You will likely be referred to a physical therapist as well who will help you adjust to the reconstructed knee and work with you to regain strength and full mobility.
Total knee arthroplasty usually calls for the patient to be admitted to hospital the day prior to the surgery date. This is done to give the patient time to adjust to the hospital environment, to allow the medical team to conduct a thorough assessment of their condition and, frankly, to ensure they don’t engage in any risky behaviour in the run-up to surgery.
Once in the operating room the patient is given a general anaesthesia and surgery commences with the senior surgeon taking the lead and being assisted by junior surgeons. If they wish, patients are free to inquire ahead of time as to who these junior surgeons will be. Once the patient is properly anesthetized and the surgeon is ready the procedure will begin and proceed through a series of predetermined and well-rehearsed steps.
– Step 1 – The surgeon makes an incision approximately 8 to 10 inches long across the patella, or knee cap. The exact length of the incision will depend on the patient. The incision is then opened up, giving the surgeon a clear view of the full joint.
– Step 2 – The knee cap is then removed and the knee joint exposed, giving the surgeon unimpeded access to the area that will be reconstructed.
– Step 3 – The bottom of the femur, or thigh bone, meets the top of the tibia, or shin bone, to create the knee joint. The femur will be the first to be resurfaced. Damaged or diseased areas of the femur will be removed by the surgeon who will take precise measurements during the process to insure the new material will be a perfect match.
– Step 4 – After damaged material is removed the bottom of the bone is carefully resurfaced to ensure the femoral component of the new, artificial knee joint will create a lasting bond with the natural bone.
– Step 5 – The femoral component of the new knee joint is joined to the bone using a specially formulated bone cement.
– Step 6 – The surgeon then turns his or her attention to the top of the tibia. Damaged cartilage is removed as are any sections of the bone itself that may have been damaged or diseased. The bone surface is then cleaned and resurfaced as was the femur to ensure the tibial component of the artificial knee will bond firmly and precisely.
– Step 7 – The tibial portion of the new joint, sometimes referred to as the “tibial tray”, is then set in place atop the tibia using the same bone cement used for the femoral component. A pad made of specially formulated materials is then inserted between the tibial tray and the femoral component that will perform the cushioning role previously done by the now removed cartilage.
– Step 8 – The patella is often modified slightly in order to co-exist harmoniously with the new artificial knee joint. It is then returned to its proper position.
– Step 9 – With the new components in place and the patella returned to its normal position the surgeon then flexes the leg to test the new joint. Alignment, stability and positioning are noted as is ease of movement. Should any issues make themselves known during testing they are addressed by the surgeon and the knee retested until it yields optimal results.
– Step 10 – Once the surgeon is satisfied with the replacement joint the knee is then stitched up and bandaged, the surgery considered complete and the process of knee replacement recovery can begin.
Knee replacement surgery is a major operation and as such is not without its risks. While the benefits of complete knee replacement are easy to quantify and form a short but impressive list, the list of possible complications is fairly long. Keep in mind however that, while risks are as much a part of the process as the knee replacement cost, there are a number of things that could go wrong any time you open up the human body. The fact is in more than 90 percent of cases patients experience no significant complications or side effects of any kind. That said let’s take a look at the potential downside of total knee replacement.
In most cases the surgeon will use a general anaesthesia to put the patient into a deep sleep during the procedure. In other cases it may be determined that a local anaesthesia which merely numbs the leg is a more appropriate choice. While modern anaesthesia is used safely many thousands of times every day there are possible (though highly unlikely) side effects and risks associated with it. The most common side effects of anaesthesia are:
– Sore throat.
– Prolonged drowsiness.
– General discomfort.
– Aches and pains.
As some of these complications can result from interactions with prescription medications it’s crucial that you disclose any such medications beforehand. Failing to do so can undermine the entire process. Also, if you have or have had substance abuse issues involving alcohol or other drugs it’s important you inform the medical team in advance as well as that may increase the risk of complications.
Postoperative infection is rare with knee arthroplasty but has been known to occur in about 1.5% of patients. While modern surgical teams are rigorous in their efforts to achieve a germ free environment in the operating room it is not always possible to eradicate every last potentially harmful microbe and so infections may occur. Some of the steps the hospital will use to create a sterile environment include:
– Vigorous ‘scrubbing’ beforehand by all members of the surgical team.
– The wearing of sterile, protective gear by all members of the surgical team.
– The use of specially designed air filters that remove even the tiniest particles from the operating room atmosphere.
– The sterilization of all instruments as well as all components of the artificial knee.
– The prescribing of antibiotics as a precautionary measure.
Typically, those who suffer from diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis stand a greater chance of developing a postoperative infection due to the fact that their immune systems are compromised by their malady. In addition, people who enter the operating room already suffering from an infection of say, the kidneys, are at greater risk of developing another infection after knee surgery. In some cases years after surgery.
There may be occasions when a blood transfusion is called for after knee replacement and transfusions carry their own risks that are independent of the knee replacement procedure. Although blood banks put their product through incredibly rigorous screening procedures in very rare cases a patient may get sick as a result of receiving a transfusion.
Allergic reactions to blood transfusions are also possible as is something called a haemolytic transfusion reaction. If there is to be a negative reaction to a blood transfusion that negative reaction typically occurs within 24 hours of the patient receiving the transfusion. In such cases symptoms may include a fever and chills, hives and shortness of breath. Donating one’s own blood ahead of time in case it is needed has become an increasingly popular option in recent years and eliminates most all of the above noted potential issues.
Any type of surgery increases the risk of blood clots so it’s no surprise that undergoing orthopaedic surgery will increase the chance of developing deep vein thrombosis (DVT) which essentially means blood clots in the leg. If undetected or untreated these blood clots can travel through the veins to the lungs and cause what is known as a pulmonary embolism. Why does this happen? Because bleeding stimulates the natural clotting process of the blood and surgery generates bleeding. The only way to eliminate the possibility of surgery-related DVT is to not undergo surgery. In most cases blood clots occur within a couple of weeks of leaving hospital but there are rare occasions where blood clots form immediately after surgery while the patient is still in hospital. In such cases the situation may cause a delay in the patient being released from hospital while the medical team deal with the clotting issue. All in all it’s believed that about 3% of people who undergo full knee replacement develop DVT and a much smaller percentage still develop pulmonary thrombosis. Should it happen to you there are steps your doctor will likely take to bring the situation under control. These include:
– Blood thinners – Medications like Warfarin, Heparin, Lovenox and Arixtra thin the blood and greatly reduce the chance of blood clots following surgery. Common aspirin may also be of use. These medications do have side effects and may not be for everyone so you’ll need to consult closely with your doctor.
– Other approaches – In addition to blood thinners your doctor may prescribe other methods for dealing with the possibility of blood clots including the use of compression hose, exercises meant to stimulate blood flow in the legs, elevating your legs to prevent blood from pooling in the lower legs and calf pumps.
Blood clots can be a serious problem so be sure to consult with your doctor about the potential risks before undergoing complete knee replacement. Your doctor can provide you with a list of signs and symptoms that may indicate the presence of blood clots so you can effectively monitor yourself after you return home following surgery.
In an extremely rare number of cases people have been known to suffer allergic reactions to the materials used in the artificial knee joint, particularly the metal. Titanium or some form of chromium alloy is typically used to create new knee joints. Since many people don’t often have direct physical contact with these metals those with allergies to them are usually unaware and only discover their allergy after the fact. If however, you are aware that you have a metal allergy tell your doctor prior to surgery so that he or she can take the steps necessary to stave off any problems down the line.
The incision your surgeon creates in order to gain unfettered access to the knee during surgery is large, (typically 8 to 10 inches long), and deep enough to expose the entire knee joint. As such it carries the potential for complications. In most cases the wound will heal enough to remove the sutures in about two weeks but in a small number of other cases complications may ensue, including:
– The build-up of fluid behind the knee – This is called a “Baker’s Cyst” and it will likely need to be drained.
– Excessive bleeding – If you are taking blood thinners for DVT they may cause excessive bleeding in the wound for a number of days after surgery. The surgeon may even need to reopen the wound in order to tighten things up and bring any bleeding under control.
– Imperfect healing of the surface – In some cases the skin won’t heal the way it should. When this occurs it may necessitate the use of skin grafts to correct the problem.
It’s possible though highly unlikely that the nerves around the surgical area may be damaged. You shouldn’t be too quick to conclude that nerve damage has occurred however. Because in some cases a patient can experience numbness in the knee that will eventually go away after a few months when the area is fully healed.
One of the goals of a knee replacement operation is the restoration of full range of motion so it’s understandable that people would be upset if they discovered their motion was being impinged following surgery. This is one of the most unlikely occurrences but it does sometimes happen. It’s usually a matter of scar tissue forming inside the knee around the new joint following surgery. It can typically be corrected by way of a brief follow up procedure to remove the scarring.
It’s extraordinarily rare but not unheard of for an artificial replacement knee to fail to live up to its responsibility to deliver pain free, full motion. While scarring is a possible cause as mentioned above there are other things that may have gone wrong from a mechanical standpoint with the joint itself. The patella may be poorly aligned and therefore interfering with the natural movement of the knee. The tibial tray and/or the femoral component may come loose from the bone, causing all manner of stability problems along with considerable pain. The pad inserted to fulfil the role of cartilage that was removed may come loose, while it’s also possible one of the polyethylene components may break. Again, these occurrences are extremely rare but they’re not outside the realm of possibilities.
Knee replacement cost varies widely from as much as £14,500 (€16,300 as of this writing) at some private London hospitals to less in other parts of the UK. What winds up being the cost of knee replacement for you will depend largely on where you have it done, whether you have full or partial knee replacement (although as we mentioned above partial and double procedures are rarely recommended), what type of insurance coverage you have and how much of the cost of knee replacement your insurance company will assume.
One of the most common questions people have is this: How long does it take to recover from a knee replacement? The process of knee replacement recovery is as important to overall success as the operation itself and the length of knee replacement operation recovery time will be largely up to the individual. While most people will begin enjoying the benefits of their new artificial knee within just a few weeks of surgery complete recovery requires the active participation of the patient at every turn. It’s crucial to long term success that the patient not try to speed up recovery but instead be patient and respect the process. That said here is a rough outline of the knee replacement recovery time and rehabilitation process as experienced by the average person under normal circumstances.
With this type of surgery rehab starts as soon as you wake up after the operation. Within the first day after surgery you should be standing and testing the knee by walking with an assistive device. A physical therapist will be there to make sure you’re up and at it because it’s crucial that you don’t waste any time putting your artificial knee to the test. That physical therapist will show you the proper way to get out of bed and how to put the cane, walker or crutches you’ll be using to best use. You’ll have discussions with the physical therapist about how much walking after knee replacement will be appropriate, navigating your way around the house once you get home and you’ll be shown the proper way to do things like change your bandages and get dressed. You’ll also be taught various ways to keep your knee moving in order to help prevent postoperative stiffness and the build-up of scar tissue that could affect mobility.
On day 2 of your recovery the therapist will ask you to get out of bed the way they showed you and to walk for short periods around the room or down the corridor. They may even ask you to try negotiating a few stairs. Each day from here on out your level of activity should increase just a bit.
Barring complications on day 5 you should be discharged from hospital. While some patients used to the assembly line mentality of many hospitals in London may think that the stay is unusually long, bear in mind that when you have your knee replacement performed in Riga costs are greatly reduced. As a result you’ll be able to take advantage of a longer recuperative period and be stronger and more confident on your new knee when you are discharged. The strength of the painkillers you take may be ratcheted back and your activity level will continue to increase. You’ll be taking longer walks through the halls and you may be asked to climb a full flight of stairs and then descend. You may also transition from walker to cane or crutches to cane. Upon discharge you should be able to bend the knee 90 degrees, dress yourself and rely only minimally on any assistive device. You should also have a solid understanding of the type and intensity of exercise and physical activity you’ll be engaging in going forward.
As each day passes following knee replacement surgery your knee should strengthen and you should experience a reduction in pain levels. You should also rely less on any assistive device with each passing day. If you had a single knee replaced you shouldn’t need more than a cane to get around and sometimes not even that as you move into your third week. The physical therapist may encourage you to go for walks outside, bathing and dressing should become routine and you’ll be expected to start on a daily regimen of exercise under the supervision of your physical therapist.
By this time you should be noticing a dramatic improvement over how you felt and moved when you first got home. The knee and leg should be approaching something like normal (although full strength may still be a few weeks off) and your exercise regime should be a regular part of your daily routine. You should be able to take longer walks without assistance from a cane or other device and climb stairs more easily. You’re really going to start feeling like your old self again. Any swelling after your knee replacement should have subsided by now and you should be able to resume the normal activities of everyday life like running short errands, cleaning and cooking.
Toward the end of this period you may begin driving again (should your doctor give the okay) which will really ramp up the feeling that you’ve finally got your life back after perhaps years of pain and inactivity. Some people return to work during this period although whether you do or not will depend on the type of work you do (nothing to physically strenuous), whether you can get there on your own and whether you show any signs of complications from the surgery.
At this point your recovery should be in full swing but you’ll need to guard against overconfidence. It should be a case of you living a more or less normal life that includes aspects of rehabilitation, rather than living a life of rehabilitation that includes aspects of normal life. Walking a few blocks without any sort of assistive device should be the norm and you should be driving confidently and handling all your own errands. Exercise should be ingrained into your daily routine not something you do when you can find the time. This is crucial because if you don’t make exercise a part of your everyday life chances are good you’ll never be able to fully take advantage of your new knee. You should be in regular contact with the physical therapist who will be monitoring your progress and continue to offer knee replacement recovery tips as you move forward.
By now, if you’ve displayed the right attitude and commitment level, you’re enjoying the type of pain free, normal existence you thought might never be possible again. You get up and make your own breakfast, go to work, go out for lunch with your friends and after work perhaps go for a swim or bicycle ride. Exercise is an integral part of your daily routine and you’re still in touch with the physical therapist to keep them abreast of your progress. One thing you aren’t doing is engaging in high impact activities like jogging, skiing, football, basketball or tennis as this level of activity could damage the implant and/or the surrounding tissue. By this point knee replacement recovery pain should be a non-issue though you may feel a bit of discomfort now and again after a period of exercise or a long ride on the bicycle. There should be no issues with range of motion or the strength of your leg and your walking motion should be smooth and perfectly natural.
As your knee replacement recovery enters the 4 to 6 month period after your surgery about the only indication that you had the procedure should be your fond memories of working with the medical team and a deep sense of satisfaction at sticking to the prescribed rehabilitation program. You should feel 100 percent normal most of the time beyond the 6 month mark and should be mindful not to slack off on the exercise regimen that helped you get to where you are.
It will be important to stay in touch with the medical team to give them progress reports and to report any abnormalities or things you feel might are “off” in any way. In all likelihood they won’t be anything to worry about but you shouldn’t hesitate to bring up any feeling or occurrence that got your attention. Keep in mind at all times that the more diligent you are in your rehab efforts the shorter your total knee replacement recovery time will be. The same goes for partial knee replacement recovery time, should you be one of the few to undergo that procedure. Put in a half-hearted effort and your knee replacement recovery time could extend a year or more and you may never feel 100%. Dedicate yourself to meeting the targets laid out by your physical therapist and your knee replacement recovery time could be 6 months or even less.
As we mentioned earlier many people suffering from debilitating knee conditions choose to have their total knee arthroplasty procedure performed abroad, and there are many good reasons for this. One which deserves a bit more consideration than we have so far accorded it is price. Below we have compiled a list of the average the knee replacement cost in Europe as of this writing to illustrate our point about the remarkable savings you’ll enjoy should you decide to have your surgery abroad.
These prices are averages compiled from various locations within the city listed. You may find that different locations within a particular city charge approximately the same or you may find a sizeable variation, particularly in some of the larger cities such as London, Paris and Berlin.
As you can see Riga is at the top of the European list when it comes to affordable knee replacement surgery abroad. That’s pretty remarkable when you consider the extraordinary quality of the care you’ll receive and the fact that the AIWA Clinic in Riga is a brand new, state of the art facility designed to anticipate and provide for your every need before during and in the immediate aftermath of your surgery. It’s staffed by some of the most experienced knee replacement surgeons you’ll find anywhere, several of whom have spent years studying and practicing in the other great capitals of Europe. The two principal surgeons at the AIWA Clinic have nearly 50 years of surgical experience between them and have performed hundreds of knee arthroplasties.
– AIWA offers hotel style accommodation for all their inpatients.
– The Orthopaedic Riga Clinic is modelled after the most modern facilities in Western Europe.
– Free WiFi in every guest room as well as flat screen TVs and room for a family member.
– All knee replacement parts are fashioned from the highest quality materials.
– There is no more experienced knee arthroplasty team anywhere.
– Riga is only a few short hours flight from London and Dublin.
– The Clinic provides 10 year follow up for their patients.
– Virtually everyone in a key position is multilingual.
– You receive round the clock personalized care.
– Full onsite rehabilitation services.
If you have hesitated having surgery abroad because you felt you would have to deal with antiquated facilities and poorly trained staff the Orthopaedic Riga Clinic is proof positive that you will not only save money by having your knee surgery in Latvia, you will also save time and likely wind up with a finished product that is as good or better than anything you would receive in the major Western capitals.
There is no doubt that 20th century history left the Baltics with an image problem. Even today when people further west think “the Baltics” they think moldering grey Soviet era office and residential blocks bathed in a perpetual cold fog. Nothing however could be further from the truth. The Baltics, and Latvia in particular, are vibrant 21st century nation states leading the way in technological innovation and integration. Riga is the largest city in the Baltics with a metro area of over 1 million people. The city itself was founded more than 800 years ago and the historic centre of town with its dazzling Art Nouveau and unique Jugendstil architectural marvels is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Riga received nearly 2.5 million visitors in 2016 making it one of the most popular tourist destinations in Northern Europe bar none. Visitors come to the Latvian capital for a variety of reasons including to take advantage of the city’s outstanding medical infrastructure. But Riga is not a one-trick pony confined to offering medical tourists world-class healthcare options. The city has also played host to numerous international conferences and sporting events including:
– The 2003 Eurovision Song Contest.
– The 2006 NATO Summit.
– The 2006 IIHF World Ice Hockey Championships.
– 2013 World Women’s Curling Championships.
In 2014 the city was named a European Capital of Culture and the European Union maintains a number of important offices in the city. Riga International Airport just outside the city is the largest and busiest airport in the Baltics. It offers direct flights to more than 30 countries and each year it serves more than 5 million passengers; more than Belfast, Belgrade or Liverpool.
A Breeding Ground of Culture
Latvia in general and Riga in particular have also produced people who have had a profound effect on modern culture both in their homeland and abroad including:
– Mark Rothko – Rothko was one of the most revered of the Abstract Expressionist painters who, along with Jackson Pollack, changed the course and expanded the language of modern painting in ways that are still reverberating through the zeitgeist today.
– Mikhail Baryshnikov – Universally acclaimed alongside Nijinsky and Rudolf Nureyev as one of the greatest ballet dancers who ever lived, Baryshnikov was born in Riga where he spent much of his youth before migrating to the West to escape what he felt were the constraints of traditional Russian ballet.
– Mikhail Tal – Tal was born in Riga and went on to become the 8th World Chess Champion in 1960. He was/is an incredibly influential chess player whose improvisational style brought a level of excitement and energy to chess that had never been experienced before. He still regarded as one of the best and most important chess players of all time.
The days when Latvia was relegated to a sort of also-ran status in the minds of the world long ago passed into history. If you are looking for the ideal place to have your knee replacement surgery you can do no better than Riga, and in particular the AIWA Clinic.
Replacing a damaged or diseased knee is a life altering experience that represents one of the true miracles of modern medical science. It can effectively transform your life from one of pain and limitations to one that is pain free and by any objective measure “normal”. Most people who have undergone the procedure speak of it being a turning point in their life and it can be that for you too. Whether you are having knee surgery abroad or at your local hospital or clinic just keep in mind that there are risks involved with knee replacement and that it will take a commitment from you to minimize the recovery time after knee replacement.