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Helms Recovering from Successful Knee Surgery

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RALEIGH — US Senator Jesse Helms is recovering from bi-lateral knee replacement surgery, meaning he had both knees replaced. Doctors say Monday's two-hour surgery was a success.

Knee replacement involves removing several pieces of bone, replacing them with a metal prosthesis, and padding the joint with artificial cartilage. Doctors says the 76-year-old senator was a good candidate for knee replacement.

"So they have a new joint, and subsequently they get rid of all of their pain," said orthopedic surgeon Dr. Robert Patz. "It's a wonderful operation. It's really an operation to make people more comfortable, and able to do activities that they couldn't do before."

"An older patient is a good candidate for knee replacement surgery, because [the replacements] last about 15 or so years," said Patz. "Then the older they are, the more likely they're only gonna require one operation."

Senator Helms will be recovering in the hospital for about two weeks. Doctors say they'll get him back on his feet later this week, then he'll undergo physical therapy.