Colin gets back on his bike after total ankle replacement
A cycle-mad grandfather from Cramlington is back on two wheels after being in and out of hospital the same day to have an ankle joint replacement.
Colin Westwood is one of the first patients at Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust to undergo the procedure as a day-case, meaning he did not stay in hospital overnight, thanks to the use of innovative anaesthetic techniques.
Colin, 77, is now back in the saddle, clocking up the miles throughout Northumberland and doing rides of more than 80 miles.
“I absolutely love it,” said Colin. “I’m really pleased to be back riding again as I couldn’t do without my bike.
“It makes me feel good and there’s nothing better than being out in the beautiful countryside of Northumberland on two wheels.
“I’m just so grateful that I’ve had this operation and I can get out and about like I used to.”
Total ankle replacements are much less common than knee and hip replacements with only around 900 being carried out in the NHS every year with only around 40 performed per year at Northumbria Healthcare.
The trust is leading the way to innovate ways of working to reduce the length of time patients spend in hospital following ankle replacements, and carry out more as day-cases with a couple being done in the last year.
The day-case ankle replacement follows a growing trend in orthopaedics at the trust as part of a multi-disciplinary patient-focused programme with many knee and hip, and even elbow, replacements being carried out at day-cases.
This is down to the use of ‘block anaesthetic’ which numbs only the area being operated and means patients recover quicker from the operation.
It also ensures patients feel less pain meaning they require fewer painkillers which can often make them feel ill.
Colin, a former builder, has had a weakness in his left ankle since having a motorbike accident in his 20s.
Over the years, arthritis developed and the pain has worsened making getting around increasingly difficult.
Colin said: “I couldn’t have stood it much longer. I could hardly walk a couple of hundred yards for a bus and I had stopped going on my bike.
“I was really surprised when Mr Townshend [his consultant] said I could be in and out of hospital in a day, particularly as when I had both my knees replaced back in 2003 and 2004 I was in hospital a few days for each.
“However things have moved on a great deal since then and I was really pleased to be back home the same day as, after all, it’s so much better being in your own surroundings rather than staying in hospital.”
Colin’s operation was performed by consultant orthopaedic surgeon David Townshend at North Tyneside General Hospital.
He said: “As a trust we’ve made great strides in all types of surgery to increase the number of operations we’re able to carry out as day-cases.
“Within orthopaedics we’ve had particular success with our innovative anaesthetic techniques enabling many patients having joint replacements to be able to go home the same day, which is so much better for them, provided they have support around them.
“This is down to having specialist members of the team at every step of the patient journey and preparing them as much as we can to make sure that everything is in place for a safe discharge home.”
To further demonstrate Northumbria’s strong position in the field, the trust is the lead site for a national ankle replacement research study as well as being an investigator site for the national Total Ankle Replacement Versus Arthrodesis (TARVA) study looking at the potential benefits of ankle replacement and ankle fusion.