Orthopedic team-based care helps patient through multiple surgeries

When Margaret Kirkes visited Lovelace Medical Group about her sore knee, little did she know she would soon meet nearly the entire staff for multiple bouts of orthopedic care.

“I can trace my knee problems back to when I was 12 and fell during skating night at my junior high school,” said Margaret, an Albuquerque widow who said her age is “on the far side of 80.”

That skating fall made her knee swell up so much over the next few months that she could hardly move it. Despite having fluid drained from it 5 different times and going through a regimen of diathermy treatments, Margaret found little relief from the pain. After a diagnosis of bursitis, two arthroscopic knee surgeries and knee surgery for a torn meniscus, Margaret dealt with constant knee pain for many years.

Knee Replacement Surgery

That all changed when she called Lovelace Medical Group Orthopedics for an appointment. “Upon arrival, I was almost immediately x-rayed and was then escorted to Dr. Patrick Gilligan’s office. He treated me like a real human, not just some old lady,” she recounted. “He examined the x-rays and we discussed his recommended solution: knee replacement surgery.”

During the one to two hour surgery, the surgeon removes any damaged cartilage and bone from the knee. The doctor then attaches metal implants to the ends of the thigh and calf bones. A plastic spacer goes between the metal pieces and helps the new joint move smoothly.

“Dr. Gilligan also told me that the patients who diligently did the exercises beforehand would experience the best outcomes. He was right – I was up and walking the same day. Within a month I was walking on my own, using only a cane for safety,” Margaret said.

Hip Replacement Surgery

Several weeks into her recovery from knee surgery, Margaret was knocked off balance and fell. She was transported to the nearest emergency room where an examination and x-rays showed a bad fracture of her hip. Since the healthcare providers recommended surgery on the next day, Margaret knew where she had to go.

“It was back to Lovelace by ambulance, this time for hip replacement surgery on the same leg as my new knee,” she exclaimed.

Dr. Gilligan heard that Margaret was back in the hospital, so he found her room and waited with her before the surgery. “Dr. Gilligan offered to stay late to be my surgeon, but he also heartily recommended Dr. Hanosh.”

Dr. Christopher Hanosh is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon specializing in hip and knee replacement surgery. Before the surgery, Dr. Hanosh also visited Margaret. “Dr. Hanosh was very nice and introduced himself to me as the attending surgeon,” she said.

During hip replacement surgeries, the surgeon removes the damaged sections of the hip joint and replaces them with parts usually constructed of metal, ceramic and very hard plastic.

Margaret’s surgery went very well without any complications. Just like after her knee surgery, she was up and walking the next day. Within a week of starting the rehabilitation exercises, Margaret was back on her feet and walking freely around her home.

Orthopedic Teamwork

After all that she went through during the summer of 2022, Margaret’s lasting memories are the ones with the nurses and doctors who cared for her.

“The nurses were very nice to me,” she said. “To know that my doctors were there and so caring made the experiences less frightening. They were also cheerleaders for me and the recovery program, which was very encouraging to me.”

Her family, neighbors and church family were amazed at her recovery and progress, especially now that she is walking without any kind of aid.

“I couldn’t have done nearly so well without the wonderful care I received from Lovelace Orthopedics. They treated me like I was somebody special”

If you are having chronic knee, hip or leg pain, call 505.727.2727 to schedule an appointment or visit click here to learn more.