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Sports enthusiast had life-changing osteotomy at 53

Caroline Atkinson, an active and keen tennis player, swimmer, hiker and cyclist had an osteotomy of the femur at BMI The Princess Margaret Hospital with Mr Henry Bourke.

Caroline has had a number of injuries and operations since she was a teenager including arthroscopies, a right knee ACI, and also a spinal fusion when she was 33. The decision to have further leg surgery was not an easy one for her.

Caroline used to enjoy cycling 80-100 miles in one day for charity, hiked up Snowdon and Ben Nevis in 2012 and regularly played tennis - and she had enjoyed ten years since her last knee surgery relatively pain free. Then in August 2018, Caroline played a tennis match and woke up the next morning in extreme pain in her right leg. She was X-rayed then had an MRI one week later and referred to a Reading consultant who advised a knee arthroscopy to investigate further.

Caroline said: “The arthroscopy in November 2018 identified three grades of arthritis in my right knee and a subsequent long leg X-ray identified that I had a misalignment of my lower right leg.” Caroline was told she needed to see a knee osteotomy specialist as she was too young to be recommended for a knee replacement.

Caroline had Private Medical Insurance and although her insurance company gave her names for a few consultants she researched online and selected Mr Bourke based on his credentials and reviews. She first saw Mr Bourke in February 2019 who said she was a suitable candidate for an osteotomy, and explained how he would need to break her leg and insert a metal plate above the inside of the knee, and would require up to three months on crutches and lengthy rehabilitation afterwards.

Caroline said: “Due to my age and my desire to return to active sport, Mr Bourke recommended a right distal varising osteotomy of the femur (removal of a 7 degree wedge of bone). This operation would effectively reload weight through my leg and knee.” She wore an Ossur loading brace to alleviate the pain while she decided when to go ahead with the operation as it meant not driving for at least 3 months .

Caroline had the surgery at BMI The Princess Margaret Hospital in Windsor, in September 2019. She required minimal oral pain relief after surgery and followed a strict ice routine to alleviate swelling on her return home. She used a new brace and crutches for 6 weeks, then just used the brace outside until her 12 week post op appointment. Caroline was back driving before Christmas and able to return to the gym with ongoing guidance from her local physiotherapist. 

Caroline also invested in new customised orthotics from a specialist in Reading which has improved her foot and ankle position when standing and walking.

Caroline concludes: “I have been really pleased with my progress. I completed a half marathon walk on VE day in May and although my leg tired I didn’t have any real pain. This was a personal milestone following my operation last September and now I’m looking at my next one. I would thoroughly recommend Mr Bourke. He was very approachable and very patient-focused, setting my expectations of what was to come to the right level. The pre and post-op care was fantastic. Thank you so much for giving me the chance to get back to sport.”