FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

When should I see someone about my knee?

If your knee does not allow you to undertake activity without pain, swelling, instability, locking or catching. These are symptoms of knee joint dysfunction. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms an accurate diagnosis is the first step.

What sort of x-rays will I need to bring when I see Dr Gallagher?

In most cases, we require standing x-rays of both knees and an MRI of the knee in question and ideally, these need to be less than 3 months old. Patients who have had previous surgery or suspected arthritis (as a guide, aged over 50 years) may also need standing hip to ankle x-rays. Our Front Office staff liaise with all new patients to ensure they will have the appropriate imaging to bring to their first appointment.

Why do I have to have private health insurance?

Dr Gallagher is a private surgeon who operates only in a private hospital. Without private health insurance, the cost of a simple arthroscopic procedure is prohibitive as patients would be required to pay the cost of the operating theatre and their day bed. Total knee replacement surgery without private health insurance would cost an uninsured patient over $25,000. These costs are picked up by health funds when patients have private health insurance.

Where does Dr Gallagher operate?

In the event that you require surgery, it will be performed at the Brisbane Private Hospital, a private hospital located at the top of Wickham Terrace with 24 hour Intensive Care Unit medical coverage and full time intensive care specialists.

Can I get a quote for surgery over the telephone?

Dr Gallagher assesses patients before deciding what sort of surgery they require and we then provide a written quote specific to this requirement. We do not quote over the telephone.

Does Dr Gallagher accept patients under Workcover, DVA or medico-legal arrangements?

Our practice policy is that we do not accept patients under these arrangements.

Does Dr Gallagher see children?

Yes, Dr Gallagher sees children aged 10 years and up.

Does Dr Gallagher accept patients who are claiming their treatment from a third party?

Patients who have been injured playing sport and are covered by their club’s insurer can be seen however the majority of sports insurers do not cover any items on the Medicare schedule (ie. hospital stay and any prostheses will be covered but the surgeon, assistant and anaesthetist will not). Medicare will cover a portion of these costs.

Does Dr Gallagher participate in No Gap or Known Gap cover arrangements?

As a general rule, there is an out of pocket cost payable for all surgeries and this is not claimable through Medicare or a health fund. In some circumstances however, Dr Gallagher may approve a No Gap or Known Gap surgical procedure.

Should I stop taking my usual medication prior to surgery?

We ask that patients stop taking Warfarin, aspirin based medications and all non steroidal anti inflammatories including fish oil one week prior to surgery. We also ask that patients be careful with their skin surrounding their knee or knees as Dr Gallagher may postpone your surgery in the instance of a scratch, insect bite, abrasion or pimple.

What should I bring with me on the day of surgery?

You will need to bring your x-rays as Dr Gallagher requires these to operate. You should also bring all paperwork, your Medicare card and private health insurance details and something to occupy your while you wait. If you are staying overnight, you will need pyjamas and personal toiletries.

Can I get myself home after a day procedure?

Day surgery nursing staff will not allow you to leave hospital without a family member or friend to drive you and to take care of you that evening.

How long does a total knee replacement last?

This depends on the age of the patient, as there is a 90% likelihood that it will still be working in 10 years if you are over 55 years old as opposed to an 80% likelihood if you are less than 55 years old. Each knee replacement is expected to last approximately 10 years after which you are likely to be able to have another knee replacement.

What sort of activities are not advisable following a total knee replacement?

Any high impact activity such as running and jumping is not recommended. You may still be able to kneel.

How long will I be in hospital for when I have my surgery?

As a general guide:
For an arthroscopyDay surgery only
For an ACL reconstructionOvernight
For a partial knee replacement2-3 days
For a partial knee replacement3-4 days
For Bilateral Simultaneous knee replacements  4-5 days
 

How long will I be on crutches for after my ACL reconstruction or high tibial osteotomy (HTO)?

In the case of an ACL reconstruction, crutches are generally needed for a 2 - 3 week period, so that the appropriate healing can take place in the ligament structures. If you have had a meniscectomy as well as an ACL reconstruction, you will need to be on crutches for up to 6 weeks. The general rule is that HTO patients are on crutches for up to 3 months after the operation, so that the bone can heal properly before weight is returned to the knee.

How soon can I return to work after my knee surgery?

This will vary depending on the type of surgery, how you are mobilising, how you are feeling within yourself and the type of work that you do. As a general principle, total knee replacements will require you to be away from work for a minimum of 2 - 3 weeks, while for a high tibial osteotomy or an ACL reconstruction, this might be 1 - 2 weeks off work. If you are on your feet a lot at your place of work, these times may well need to be longer.

How soon can I drive my car after my knee surgery?

This will be different depending on your specific operation, but as a matter of law in Queensland, you are not permitted to drive for 6 weeks following a total knee joint replacement. How long after this will be dependent on your individual healing, rehabilitation, and mobilisation.

How long will my operation take?

Actual time in theatre can vary from 45 minute to 4 hours however the pre operative preparation, anaesthetising and recovery all take time. Please make sure that you and your family allow the appropriate amount of time for the entire process. Theatre times are approximate only and variations are normal. When Dr Gallagher calls your nominated next of kin following your surgery, you will generally not be back on the ward at that point in time.

When I run out of medication, can I call the clinic to get more?

We ensure patients leave hospital with scripts to see them through to their 2 week follow up appointment. They will then leave the clinic with scripts to see them through to their 6 week follow up whereupon they will be given scripts to see them through to the 2 – 3 month post operative mark. Should patients run out of medication after their 6 week follow up appointment, we suggest they liaise with their General Practitioner.

What are the signs of infection that I should look out for following surgery?

Dr Gallagher prides himself on a very low infection rate however for various reasons, infection can occur. Signs to look out for include the knee swelling, feeling warm and tight, pain and then feeling unwell or hot. Dr Gallagher is to be notified urgently if any of these signs are present and if this is after hours, his mobile number is printed on the bottom of the post operative notes.

I can hear a clunking noise after my knee replacement – is this normal?

Yes, this is the metal components engaging with rigid plastic and is expected. It can be improved with some quadriceps and hamstring strengthening.

When can I fly following my surgery?

Dr Gallagher prefers regional patients to fly home following the 2 week post operative appointment. Any patients planning travel should give themselves 3 months following knee replacement surgery.

What if I need dental treatment before or after my knee replacement surgery?

Any dental work should be carried out a minimum of 6 weeks prior to surgery to allow the mouth to heal and at least 3 months but preferably 6 months following surgery. Patients should have antibiotic cover 30 minutes before going to the dentist.

When do I start physiotherapy after my surgery?

There are some very simple exercises that you can start immediately following your surgery. Actively moving your ankles up and down and tensing your thigh (static quads) and buttock muscles help to maintain your circulation and reduce the chance of developing complications in the early post operative period. The static quads exercise also help to overcome inhibition of your quads (thigh) muscles that can occur with the usual post operative swelling and pain. If you are a day surgery patient you will be visited by the physiotherapist on the day of your procedure and given a home program of exercises and instructions to follow until your first post operative appointment. Once you are mobilising safely and are well you can go home. If you are an inpatient (staying in hospital) you will be seen on the first post operative morning. You will be given an exercise program. In patients are generally seen twice a day during their stay and are discharged home once they have a good understanding of their exercise program, they are mobilising safely and are well.

Will I need crutches after my operation?

The use of crutches depends on the surgery you are having. The reasons that you would be required to use crutches include comfort, to allow you to mobilise safely and / or to protect healing tissue from excessive stress.
ProcedureCrutchesTime on crutches (on average)
 Arthroscopy No N/A
 Meniscal repair Yes 4-6 weeks
 ACL reconstruction Yes 2 weeks
 Patella re-alignment Yes 6 weeks
 Osteotomy Yes 3 months
 Partial knee replacement Yes 2 weeks
 Total Knee replacement Yes 2 weeks
If you are required to use crutches you will be instructed how to use them safely including how to negotiate stairs before you leave hospital.

How long does it take to recover from a total knee replacement?

Recovery rates differ for everyone and for every knee but in general it will take 3 - 4 months to fully recover from your surgery. In the first two weeks it is recommended that you take it easy to allow post operative pain and swelling to start to settle. The next month you build your activity but just to a level of what you NEED to do. Then between the 6 and 12 week mark build to what you want to do. During the post operative period your activity should be guided by your swelling and pain.

How can I assist my recovery after my operation?

In general, in the early stages following surgery take it easy. The use of ice and compression may help to assist with pain and swelling control. Gentle exercise can assist with maintaining muscle function and prevent stiffness. You will be given guidelines on exercises, ice, activity levels and if the use of crutches is required following your surgery to maximise your recovery. Follow up physiotherapy can be arranged through the clinic or your local physiotherapist.