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Old 09-23-2013, 03:06 AM   #1
Jdeks OP
Joined: Aug 2009
Oddometer: 1,022
Wanted: Experiences with graft surgery.

Hi folks,

As some of you may know, I took a pretty big hit about six months ago. The bike got off lightly. I did not.

9 months down the track and the recovery hasn't gone according to plan. Nutshell version: amongst other issues, I've lost most of the use of my right arm. Lucky for me, I wasn't deemed at fault for the crash, and my medical insurance provider has paired me with some great surgeons who've given me a lot of options.

One of the many issues is a collarbone that, despite the surgeons best efforts, just won't stay attached. The tissue hasn't grown back like it should have. So, now he has to go in and do it himself. There are three options. One is to steal one of the 3 hamstring tendons from my leg, and use that to rebuild the AC joint that is no more. The second is to use a synthetic substitute called Surgilig to try and do the same thing.

Of course, the problem with this is that with the arm a dead weight, the joint is under more stress than usual and at risk of breaking apart again. There may be some hope of re-animation - in the form of nerve transfer surgery. However it's hardly a sure thing either, with its own risks and complications. If we can't/don't resurrect the arm, the third option is to fuse the joint entirely, providing a very strong bond... but roughly halving the range of motion of my arm, regardless of the state of the nerves.

It's an interesting situation. I won't bore you to death with all the permutations. What I'm looking for is people who've gone through a similar procedure. Specifically, I'd love any experiences on:

-Joint stabilisations/reconstructions (especially of the AC joint)
-Joint fusions
-Synthetic tendon/tissue substitutions (especially long term outcomes)
-Live tendon grafts (especially hamstring donor, and long term recovery and function)
-Nerve transfer or nerve grafts

If you've had this done, you'd know it. If you're willing to share, I'd love to hear about what you had done, and how it's working for you now. Doesn't have to be public, PM me if you like. But I've got a helluva decision to make, and apparently about 3 more months to get it sorted. Any information would be great. personal opinions, baseless assumptions, idle speculation, racial slander and unrelated profanity are also welcome.
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Old 09-23-2013, 08:38 AM   #2
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There is absolutely no shame in getting an opinion outside of your current team of providers, regardless how good they are. Given the gravity of the decision, I'd implore you to get a second, third or fourth opinion before you decide.

Maybe find a doc rated here?
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Old 09-24-2013, 03:36 PM   #3
Joined: Oct 2006
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One thing that might be worth doing is to talk to an un-affiliated Physical Therapist or two to find out what recovery they typically see after such treatments that you are considering. Even if you had to pay them. They deal with the aftermath of surgeries; and may be able to shed some light on how various patients recover and rehabilitate.

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Old 09-24-2013, 04:08 PM   #4
Joined: Aug 2013
Oddometer: 31
I had a hamstring tendon graft to replace the ACL in my left knee in 1994. I dont know how applicable to your situation it really is though. My experience is basically that it hurt really bad for the first few days after surgery. I would say where they cut the tendon out hurt worse than the initial injury. It felt like someone had jabbed a meat hook in my leg with a 25 pound weight hanging from it. All in all though, the extreme pain was very temporary, maybe a couple of days, and my recovery was very quick. I was walking without crutches within a month (not exactly the doctors orders) and I was able to play football the next season, approximately 7 months after the surgery. My knee has been pretty much normal outside of one flare up when I was in basic training a few years later. If anything my repaired knee is more stable than my uninjured knee these days.
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