Ankle replacement surgery

May 22, 2009 8:31:37 PM PDT
William Phillips, 58, of Collegeville, Pennsylvania said for the first time in a long time, he doesn't feel pain in his right ankle and he's slowly getting his range of motion and strength back. But ten weeks ago, he said it hurt to walk, let alone enjoy his favorite activities. "Golf became more difficult, any sort of physical activity became more and more difficult," Phillips said.

Years of playing basketball lead to numerous sprained and fractured ankles and eventually left Phillips with bone deformities and severe arthritis in his right ankle. He tried different therapies but nothing eased the pain. "So I finally said you know I need to do something."

That's what brought him to Jason Miller, DPM of Paoli Hospital. www.PAOrthoCenter.comHe's one of the first in the area to offer a new type of ankle replacement surgery.

"What has occurred with this part of implant is, this implant allows the same system of implantation that total joints in the knee and hip allow," Dr. Miller said, adding while knee and hip replacement surgery has become common, the technology for ankles is just now catching up.

He said what makes this new implant, called the INBONE, different is it allows for a more custom, precise fit without having to remove a lot of bone. Plus, the patient's bone grows into the implant, making it more secure.

"Which historically has been a problem with ankles because [the implants] would loosen over time," Miller said.

Had Phillips not opted for ankle replacement surgery, his other option would have been ankle fusion. Dr. Miller said that procedure also relieves pain, but it reduces mobility. "Even peddling a bicycle is almost impossible because the ankle doesn't move in its fixed position," he said.

That's not a problem with ankle replacement surgery. Patients should have the same range of motion they had before the surgery. Phillips said he can move his ankle in every direction. "It's like a normal ankle," he said.

He still has some swelling and needs more physical therapy, but Dr. Miller said his ankle is healing well and he's cleared to play golf this weekend. "I mean that's key," Phillips said, adding, "I've always been involved in sports and not being able to get out was, not fun."

Patients are put in a cast for the first four to six weeks after the operation and then start physical therapy. Because this is a new device, there's no long-term studies, but doctors say so far, the results are promising.

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