Monday, April 16, 2007

Finally, A Diagnosis

After two weeks of hobbling around on crutches, still unsure of the extent to which I damaged my left knee, I finally saw the orthopedist to follow-up on my MRI scan.

The diagnosis is much better than I had feared. No torn ligaments, no severe damage, no broken bones. To get a good idea of what I've got going on in my knee, I'll share with everyone my MRI report:

There is a large joint effusion with fluid observed in the medial gastrocnemius-semimembranosus bursa.

Translation: I have fluid in a pouch behind my knee joint as well as in the front. I could have told them that.

Full thickness cartilage defect measuring about 16mm in transverse dimension is observed at the patellar apex and medial facet on the axial series. The displaced cartilage fragment lies adjacent to the lateral side of the lateal femoral condyle. The displaced cartilage fragment measures about 14 mm in AP dimension and about 2 cm in craniocaudal dimension.

Translation: I knocked a chunk of cartilage loose when I dislocated my kneecap, and that sucker is still floating around in my knee. It's big.

There is marrow edema in the inferior pole of the patella medially. There is also marrow edema along the lateral aspect of the lateral femoral condyle with a little depression in the lateral distal femoral cortex.

Translation: Marrow edema is a common result of joint trauma, and indicates that I did indeed screw up my knee. There is marrow edema in multiple locations of my knee joint where trauma occurred.

The large joint effusion distends the joint and the patella is positioned slightly more lateral than usual. However, frank disruption of the medial retinacular complex is not appreciated.

Translation: The fluid causing my knee to swell is limiting my mobility. Duh. Also, my kneecap is just a tad out of place due to the pressure of the swelling, but overall the extent of the damage is not that severe.

But the most important observation, as far as I'm concerned:

The cruciate ligaments, collateral ligaments, quadriceps mechanism and muscles and tendons all appear normal. The medial and lateral meniscus both appear normal. Cartilage in the medial and lateral compartments is preserved.

Translation: I didn't tear my ACL, my MCL or any other ligaments and I don't have meniscus damage. I can't express in words how relieved I am to know that.

The bad news is that I'll still need surgery, though, to remove the chunk of cartilage that is still floating around in my knee causing pain and swelling. Luckily it will require no more than a small incision and arthroscopy, and won't result in a huge nasty scar like ACL surgery might.

I'm scheduled for surgery next Wednesday morning. After that I begin rehab and work toward getting back on the bike. With any luck I'll be able to make the Madison Cycling Regatta in Madison, Indiana in mid-July. I love that race, I'd hate to miss it.

More updates to come, of course.