ACI Patient's story

Before her Autologous Chondrocyte Implantation (ACI) operation at Spire Parkway Hospital, the pain in Julie Chapman’s knee was so severe that it was affecting her active lifestyle and preventing her from leading a normal life. Once enthusiastic about sports, especially cycling, she found she could no longer carry this on in the way she had done previously. Day to day activities such as supermarket shopping became increasingly difficult. The pain became so severe that she was not able to join her bridesmaids to look for dresses for her imminent wedding day. The pain in her knee meant she had to stay at home while the bridesmaids took photographs of potential dresses. Realising that she must do something to ease the pain, she began to investigate various treatments. Julie booked an appointment with Mr Ved Goswami, Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon at Spire Parkway Hospital, Solihull. In the meantime, she discovered that a colleague at work had also had an ACI operation performed on her knee at a different hospital, with a different surgeon. This colleague told Julie of the pain she experienced after the procedure and this obviously made Julie apprehensive as to whether she would experience the same thing.

Everyday life is currently pain free and she is now able to look forward to doing things that she would not have been able to do before.

Julie says she was very impressed that from the moment she arrived at Spire Parkway and Mr Goswami put her mind at ease by explaining the whole process from start to finish. Julie says that he explained how there would be two procedures; the first would be an arthroscopy to collect cells (called chondrocytes). The cells would then go to a lab where they would be grown to a sufficient amount before being implanted back into the knee.   The second procedure would involve opening up the knee joint, preparing the defect and then gluing or suturing the grown cells into place with the aim of regenerating new cartilage and removing the problems Julie was experiencing.   Julie says that everything he said in the initial consultation happened as he had said it would. This really set her mind at rest, as she felt reassured by knowing what to expect. Julie was also impressed by how quick the process was.   She said it took a matter of days to book a consultation, and from that point only a couple of weeks between the MRI’s to actually booking the procedure. This was just as well, as her wedding day was looming in two months and she was concerned about how well recovered the knee would be by the time she would have to walk down the aisle.

On the day of the first procedure, Julie was understandably nervous. Whilst Mr. Goswami had explained what to expect, the words of her colleague still resonated and with her wedding day a matter of weeks away, she was nervous about the pain she might experience after the procedure. However, she found that after both stages of the procedure, there was little or no pain and her experience overall was nothing like that of her colleague. In hindsight, Julie even says she wishes that she had not spoken to this person as her experience was entirely different. She believes this was down to several factors, such as the high level of skill, care and attention that Mr Goswami offered her. Also, her stay at Spire Parkway Hospital greatly helped in her recovery process. Julie says the nurses on the ward were excellent and she was made to feel as comfortable as possible. Also, the physiotherapy she received after the procedure really made a difference. Julie says the practical advice the physiotherapists offered was invaluable and really helped her to recover quickly.

Mr Goswami explained that Julie should expect to need six weeks to recover. She says this was also accurate information. While she did not experience any severe pain, it was necessary to rest for this period of time to allow the knee to heal. After this period of recuperation, Julie could not believe the difference. Day to day life was no longer a challenge and most importantly, merely ten weeks after the procedure, Julie walked down the aisle. She was concerned she might have a slight limp so soon after surgery but she did not even notice her knee and instead, was able to fully enjoy the big day pain free. As well as this, Julie fell pregnant shortly after the ACI procedure and at the time of interviewing was just two weeks away from her due date. She believes that if she had not had the procedure done on her knee, pregnancy would have been very difficult as this would have caused more stress on the joint. Also, it would have been difficult to look after a new baby with such severe pain that she had been experiencing prior to the ACI procedure.

Overall she says she cannot speak highly enough of her experience at Spire Parkway Hospital. Everything from Mr Goswami’s surgery and advice through to the aftercare from the nurses and physiotherapists was excellent. Everyday life is currently pain free and she is now able to look forward to doing things that she would not have been able to do before this, such as go on holidays or take up sports again. Ultimately she would recommend it, because it may have saved her from having to have a full knee replacement at a young age, and to be able to walk down the aisle without any pain simply ten weeks after the procedure was remarkable to her.

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