High-risk patients can get knee operation at Fishers hospital

Bonnie Clendening of Bloomington has known for five years that she needed a new right knee. She just could not find a surgeon who would do the operation.

“One said, 'I wouldn’t do it if I were you,' and one said, 'Don’t even think about it,' and the other one said, 'I could do it, but you would be a very high risk,' and then I just kind of tabled it,” said Clendening.

In fact, Bonnie is high-risk. She has peripheral artery disease, causing swelling and pain in her legs. Her son, Rob, refused to give up.

He heard about a surgeon at IU Health who specializes in high-risk patients.

“I really feel bad for a lot of these patients,” says Dr. Michael Meneghini of the IU Health Hip and Knee Center. Meneghini told CBS4 he had no qualms about taking on Bonnie as a patient,  but he required she follow his strict pre-surgery protocol. He and his team have come up with a nationally-known strategy to manage these types of patients.

“For our high risk patients, what we have done is extended oral prophylaxis, just a pill twice a day for seven days and what that does is protect the patient in that early high-risk, post-operative period. It minimizes their risk of infection,” said Dr. Meneghini.

He also requires his patients use a special antibacterial soap. If the patient is overweight, he asks them to diet. If they are diabetic, his team helps the patient get the diabetes under control.

“Meet us halfway,” said Dr. Meneghini. “You may not be able to cure your diabetes. You may not be able to be skinny, but what we need you to do is optimize those medical conditions.”

Bonnie underwent surgery on July 9.  She’s promised we can check on her to see how she’s doing.

“I’d like to be able to walk without a cane and walk with ease,” said Clendening.

Meneghini says just .5 percent of his high risk patients have any sort of an infection-- better than the national average.

For more on the IU Health Hip and Knee Center, click here.

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