Nima Wangdi  

The successful total knee replacement surgery of 66-year-old Tshering Lhamo from Lunana, Gasa yesterday marked the launch of the service in the country. A team led by Dr Kuenzang Wangdi, Head of the  Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, completed the surgery in an hour and a half.

This means those requiring knee joint replacement hereafter will no longer need to be referred abroad.

According to the officials from the hospital, total joint replacement is a surgical procedure where a damaged or arthritic joint is removed and replaced with a prosthesis (metal, plastic, or ceramic).

“The most commonly replaced joints in our body are the knee and hip joints. Other joints like the shoulder, elbow, and ankle are also replaced but very rarely,” an official said.

Currently, the hospital’s orthopaedic department sees a huge number of patients with severe osteoarthritis of the knee joint every day. They are treated with pain medication and intra-articular steroid injections

Patients with severe joint arthritis especially the knee and hip are referred abroad for joint replacement according to hospital officials.

A press release from JDWNRH stated that around 70 patients are referred abroad for joint replacement surgeries. It has huge financial implications for the government while the patients also have to undergo inconveniences.

Health Minister Dechen Wangmo, during the launching of the service, said that besides a significant cut down on referral costs to the government, the introduction of the service in the country will make it convenient for patients as they need not have to travel abroad.

“The services itself will be able to bring about change in the quality of life of many who have mobility issues due to knee pain and age,” she said.

Dr Kuenzang Wangdi was trained in the procedure at Medica Specialty hospital in India recently.