From the instant he heard the familiar-sounding pop in his knee, Brian Bruns knew immediately something was wrong.
After all, the 30-year-old restaurant owner who has been a skier since age seven, had heard the tell-tale noise before. But after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in his right knee last fall—16 years after he tore the ACL in the same knee while skiing – Bruns knew this could be a much bigger issue.
Bruns’ second ACL injury occurred while he was skiing and hiking through rough terrain of a back bowl in Colorado. He leapt and landed back on solid ground when he felt his knee pop and twist.
As a restauranteur who spends 80 hours working each week and walks between 20,000-30,000 steps a day, Bruns admits nearly a year later that if he didn’t have the repair surgery right away, it likely wouldn’t have gotten done for several years.
The excruciating knee pain was causing Bruns’ work performance to suffer. He would tire much quickly than he was accustomed to and he could feel his knee slipping in and out of place. He knew he couldn’t forego surgery any longer.
And, he knew he didn’t have much of a choice.
Finding the right surgeon
Due to his previous ACL tear, fixing Bruns’ knee a second time was much more complicated and he sought an expert in complex knee injuries. He chose Dr. Adam Yanke, a sports medicine orthopedic surgeon with Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush who is specially trained in treating multiple complex knee conditions in one surgery.
After examining Bruns, Dr. Yanke noticed that in addition to the fact that Bruns’ ACL wasn’t structurally intact after his first surgery, he also had cartilage loss and poor boney alignment. The combination of issues meant Bruns needed reconstruction of his ACL but also a cartilage transplant and osteotomy (a realignment of the bone).
While each patient’s experience with recovery is different, Dr. Yanke says in Bruns’ case, he needed six weeks of recovery with limited weight bearing in order for his knee to begin to heal. Burns did his best to speed up his recovery with limited activity and physical therapy while understanding that there were certain biological dimensions of the healing process for which he’d have to be patient.
I met Dr. Yanke and his PA Leigh in May of 2015 after a life changing ski accident. I have been a ski instructor for over 30 years now and can handle almost any type of terrain. I was skiing at Arapaho Basin in Colorado on my birthday March 5th of 2015 with two very close friends. I was in the middle of a turn down a run they call the 3rd Ally at Abasin. For those not familiar with this area, it is a Double Black run with trees. Anyway in the middle of my turn my friend tells me that I said ouch or something like that and then my knee just buckled under me. This leg happened to be my downhill ski at the time which means almost all of my weight was on this ski.
The next thing I know I am cartwheeling down a very steep run. The worst part of it was my ski did not come off. I felt every pop and tear in my knee and all I could think was this is not good. I finally came to a stop when I hit two medium sized trees that stopped me from tumbling anymore. I was pinned against these trees and I moved my leg and the top moved and the bottom did not, all I said was this is bad. My fiends got the ski patrol to come get me and I was not in an easily accessible part of the mountain. After a hard extraction ski patrol words not mine. I was transported by ambulance to the ER in Frisco, CO. I don’t remember much after that but do remember being told I was being airlifted to St. Anthony’s Hospital in Lakewood, CO. I still had no idea how bad I was hurt. St. Anthony’s is a level 1 trauma center so it was bad. I guess during my fall I had fully dislocated my Knee which was the easy part of the injury. The bad part was that I had crushed or tore the main artery in my knee that supplies blood to the lower leg. Needless to say I was airlifted to have emergency surgery to save my leg and my life. I ended up with Compartment Syndrome from the internal bleeding and had to have a fasciotomy on both sides of my calf. For those of you who don’t know what that means they had to cut open my leg open to relieve the swelling.
The next few weeks were very touch and go as to what I remember. Lots of other bad things happened to me all stemming from the trauma that I had gone through. I remember waking up and seeing my leg for the first time and saying what the hell happened. There was an external fixator on my leg to keep it stable and wound vacs on the cuts in my leg. I spent 6 weeks in the hospital in Colorado and had 3 surgeries while I was there none of which treated any Orthopedic issues. I told the doctors there that I wanted to see the orthopedic guys at Midwest Orthopedics.
So fast forward to May when I met Dr. Yanke after I had the fixator removed by one of his associates. My first appointment they did an x-ray and I will remember Dr. Yanke’s first words to me when he came in to discuss my injuries. He said and I quote “You’ve got a lot going on down there”. I loved his sense of humor I was in a bad place and he made me laugh. I turns out that I had also tore my Patella Tendon. I think this is what happened first which would explain why my ski didn’t come off. He and Leigh were very patent with me and explained that they probably would have to do the repairs in stages. So on May 30th they repaired my Patella and I had to sit and wait for that to heal for a month with my leg completely straight in a brace and no weight on it. Then I did PT until September 22nd when they went in and replaced with graphed ligaments all 4 of them. Then I was sidelined again until I was able to return to PT. I did PT until April of 2017 at that time they went back in and cleaned out some scar tissue to help me get some additional range of motion. Then it was back to PT.
So why am I sharing this story? Because without Dr. Yanke and Leigh I don’t think I would be walking today. From the start my goal was to be able to ski again. Dr. Yanke always gave me a smile and said we will see. I kept working hard and at every visit back to him I was stronger and I would ask can I ski again. And as always he would say are you sure you want to do that with a smile. I would say of course I do. Well it will be 2 years ago on March 5th of this year that I hurt myself doing something I have loved for over 30 years. I can say on Jan 6th 2018 with my son and my brother and many great friends I got back on my skies and made some turns. It is still a work in progress and probably will be for the rest of my life but I did it. Thanks to the amazing skill and great care Dr. Yanke and Leigh gave me. I will forever be in debt to them. I think of them as my friends now.
I have had to deal with several issues related to my knee for years, but the most bothersome issue had been worsening and caused me difficulty walking at all. My life had been severely impacted. I had already had arthoscopic surgery, but my conditions just worsened. Following that surgery, I had seen four doctors, two physical therapists, and even tried a chiropractor. I had been given multiple diagnoses with no clear solutions. I was actually facing a major surgery within two weeks when I saw Dr. Yanke for the first time. Thankfully, Dr. Yanke pointed us in a different direction, and performed a successful and relatively minor surgery with major impact. Four months after the surgery, my husband and I were able to celebrate our 20th anniversary in Zion National Park where we hiked every single day including the Angel’s Landing and the Narrows trails. It’s truly been a blessing to be able to be active again. We actually reside over 9 hours away, but Dr. Yanke, his office, and the hospital were all great to work with us over the phone and via email to make sure the surgery and recovery were successful. I would most definitely recommend Dr. Yanke to anyone looking for a physician specializing in knee issues.
Last January I had fallen on the ice and had broken my knee cap. You performed surgery and stitched the bones back together. A year and a half later and I am currently taking taekwondo classes and my knee is doing excellent! I wanted to thank you for making this possible. I have made yellow belt and am on my journey to become a black belt. You rock!
Last year, I was involved in a pretty bad car accident that left me with a broken right arm. After initially believing I could heal without surgery, I later came to understand the break was worse than I had originally thought. This was my first broken bone, and I was in complete foreign territory. I met with Dr. Yanke shortly before my surgery where he made me feel comfortable with the entire process. Coming from a dance history, he assured me an active lifestyle would not remain in my past. He is patient in the healing process, and does not push your personal healing simply for the validation of his work. He was also incredibly understanding when I had to move only two months out of surgery. He connected me with a doctor he knew personally in my new town and made the transition quite seamless. Now, only one year out, his work has allowed me to obtain a yoga teacher certification. Now, only one year out, I am completely in debt to him in the repair of my arm. His work has allowed me a second chance at what I want to do with my life. And the scar is pretty cool too 🙂
Dear Dr. Yanke,
I wanted to send a proper thank you for the work you did on my knee. The joint works perfectly. I am able to take part in life in am way that I never was before; it’s like a new life.
Recently, I trekked the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal. We climbed to one of the world’s highest lakes at 16,000 feet and crossed one of the highest mountain passes, Thorung La, 17,750 feet. Of course someone else carried my heavy bag!
Thank you for giving me a new way to approach the world.