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Latest machine makes surgery easy, cheaper

Health & Science
 Doctors at Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital in Eldoret attend to Dominic Kiprono's knee injury. [Photo: Michael Ollinga, Standard]

Dominic Kiprono’s dream of becoming a professional footballer nearly died due to a knee injury he picked during a match.

For the past one year, Mr Kiprono has not stepped onto a football field and visits to various hospitals have yielded nothing.

At one point, he says, a doctor told him he had arthritis, which was not the case.

The Division Two National League player says the pain in his right knee had been unbearable.

“I have been to hospitals in Kericho and Nairobi but I did not get the treatment I needed. And for the love of football I would wear a knee brace and swallow pain killers in order to play, after which my leg would ache all night,” says Kiprono.

The footballer says only when he was referred to a hospital in Eldoret was it established that his knee ligaments had been torn.

Enduring pain

“The hospital asked me for Sh300,000 which I did not have. I continued enduring pain,” he says.

All this was before Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital (MTRH) installed a new machine worth Sh30 million that allows surgery with minimal incision.

The Arthroscopy Shaver, from Germany, gives doctors an internal view of shoulder, hip, knee, wrist and ankle joints, enabling them to diagnose problems without cutting into the skin.

The machine has turned Kiprono’s story around. With normal surgery, the 22-year-old would have spent a lot of money and probably a considerable time in hospital, and still needed the aid of crutches for a while.

However, he was able to walk on his own after surgery using the new equipment. His was the first operation to be carried out at the hospital, on Monday, since the machine was installed last week.

Harsh Vadgama, an orthopaedic surgeon at MTRH, said the procedure uses a small camera called an arthroscope, which is inserted into the problematic joint, and the image of the affected part is displayed on a monitor.

A smaller machine called an arthroscopic shaver is then used to correct torn tendons and ligaments.

“The instruments are smaller than 15 millimetres in width and make a keyhole-sized incision in the affected joint,” said Dr Vadgama. “If it is a knee injury, a patient can literally walk home the next day instead of staying up to four days in hospital, taking two-months’ bed rest or using crutches.”

Patients can pay for the procedure using their National Hospital Insurance Fund cover. A minimum of Sh130,000 and a maximum of Sh500,000 is deducted. For cash payments, the amount varies depending on the problem.

Doctors said they were waiting for him to heal (in two weeks) before they replaced his knee ligament because it was infected.

One of Kiprono’s saddest moments was when he missed out on selection for Harambee Stars Under-19 team that travelled to Brazil to watch the 2014 World Cup.

“I had lost hope but I thank God that I will be able to play football again,” said the student of Kisii University.

Avoid mistakes

“I just need eye, hand and feet co-ordination to avoid mistakes. I don’t look at the knee but the monitors, then I correct the problem using the shaver machine,” said Vadgama, who worked with fellow surgeons Elijah Muteti and Victor Bargoiya. Wilson Aruasa, the hospital’s chief executive, said the machine can also extract ovarian cysts, appendix and gallstones.

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