Patient Stories

Thomas J. Klein, MD

Climbing 3,000 steps at Machu Picchu is a challenge for anyone. Susan did it less than two months after knee surgery. The 54-year-old real estate appraiser from Great Falls took her two children on a trip to Peru just eight weeks after having ACL reconstruction on her left knee with Thomas Klein, MD, at Commonwealth Orthopaedics.

It was not her first ACL procedure with Dr. Klein. More than 10 years ago, he performed reconstruction surgery on her right knee after she tore her ACL in a riding accident. At that time, he opted for an autograft procedure, using part of Susan’s patellar tendon to reconstruct her ACL. After Susan tore her left ACL while skiing a couple of years ago, Dr. Klein performed an allograft reconstruction, using donated tissue from a cadaver to create the new ligament.

The procedure was different the second time around because of Susan’s age and changing demands on her knees. While the autograft method is typically most successful in patients who want to return to a high-demand, athletic lifestyle, the success of the allograft procedure increases as patients get older and demands diminish. However, the optimum treatment ultimately depends on the unique needs of each individual. Different techniques work best in different situations.

For Susan, the results couldn’t have been more different. “The first procedure relieved my pain and allowed me to return to horseback riding and other activities, but the rehabilitation process was long and difficult,” she says. “After the allograft procedure, recovery was a breeze. It took me just a few short months to recuperate.”

Even though both of her knees are holding up well, Susan still manages to keep Dr. Klein busy. “I’ve recommended him to many others and when my kids fall they get to go see him,” she says.

“Commonwealth is always a good experience. I feel confident that they are going do the best they possibly can for their patients. That’s why I went back.”