The son of a patient who underwent knee surgery at the National University Hospital (NUH) has reported online that his mother suffered from worsening knee pain for ten years after the surgery, only to discover that the implant that was placed in her knee a decade ago could have been defective.
Reddit user u/Mikeferdy shared his mother’s story and said it was a lesson for others to always seek a second or third medical opinion if their doctor is unable to pinpoint the reason behind their pain or illness.
In 2009, Mike’s mother underwent knee replacement surgery. Imediately after the procedure, the family noticed that she could not bend her knee more than 90 degrees backwards.
Mike’s family approached the doctor in charge of the case who told them that this was normal and his mother would have to undergo therapy to restore the full use of her knee. Mike’s mother’s condition, however, did not improve after six months of therapy.
When they approached the NUH doctor again, the family was told that this is normal and that complications can happen after surgery. The doctor apparently said that since his mother’s surgery is considered a success since her knee is still functioning, even though the function was limited.
Over the next five years, Mike’s mother returned to NUH twice a year for reviews of her knee and its function. After five years, his mother noticed that the range of motion in her knee was worsening and in the sixth year after surgery, she began experiencing knee pain.
Concerned, Mike approached the doctors and asked what needed to be done. He was told that the implant may be affected since his mother is slightly overweight and Mike’s mother began following a diet plan.
Eight years after the surgery, Mike’s mother’s knee condition was “slowing but surely getting worse.”
Disturbed that the NUH doctor in charge of the case did not give “much of an answer on what’s causing the pain,” Mike decided to seek a second medical opinion at Ng Teng Fong General Hospital. He recounted:
“At first, it was just tests and not much else. Then one day, when my mom went alone to see the doctor at NTF hospital, the doctor there just told her to go back to NUH as they know the situation better than NTF. I was like WTF??”
A year goes by and Mike’s mother could barely bend her knee any longer and her pain was worsening. Mike was purportedly told by the NUH doctor that “they still do not know exactly what is wrong with the knee. They can perform surgery to clean the scar tissues around the implant that might be causing the problem but its not a guarantee, in fact it might get worse.”
Afraid of more complications, the family opted against surgery. Another year goes by without relief for Mike’s mother.
Upset, Mike sought a third medical opinion at Singapore General Hospital (SGH) and finally found out what could be wrong with his mother’s knee. He said:
“The SGH doctor took one look at the X-Ray and just straight up tell me that the implant is defective. The doctor in charge at SGH explained to me that her condition is actually quite rare and first indication of lack of range of motion 10 years ago was already a red flag.
“Right now, her the plastic spacer in-between the knee implant is totally gone. That should not happen on a good implant. Or at the very least, a yearly review of the implant is conducted to check if it is necessary to replace the plastic spacer in a revision, which the NUH and NTF doctors fail to suggest.
“SGH doctor recommended immediate surgery to replace the entire implant. Normally a replacement plastic spacer would be enough but over the years, the lack of plastic spacer has damaged the implant and now require a full new implant.”
Mike’s mother is now scheduled for surgery next week. Sharing his family’s story online, he urged his fellow netizens to seek multiple opinions if they fail to get answers to medical ailments.
Netizens responding to Mike’s post urged him to consider taking legal action against NUH. The Independent has contacted NUH for comment and will update this article once we receive a response.