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Coordinated Health

Advancements in Foot and Ankle Surgery

By: Scott Sauer, MD   January 9, 2020
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Advancements in orthopedic technology, involving the foot and ankle specifically, have greatly changed the way I practice. It’s been a mindful evolution, with me critically evaluating technology that works well and helps my patients. What was once cumbersome and time consuming, is now streamlined and efficient. Long recovery periods with inability to bear weight have changed into shorter rehabilitation stages with immediate walking.

Hardware

Hardware used in foot and ankle surgery includes screws, pins, and other materials used in procedures like ankle replacements, reconstructions, and fracture repairs. Hardware is one of the major areas where I’ve seen improvement.

  • Low Profile – The hardware that has become available is low profile, which means it blends in with the anatomy much easier. It’s also less prominent and can’t be felt under the skin.
  • Non-Metallic – Many ligament and tendon reconstructions are secured with screws and anchors made of calcium and phosphate, the building blocks of bone.
  • Stronger – The materials are now stronger, allowing patients to walk and recover much faster than in the past.

Minimally Invasive Procedures

Surgical technique has changed dramatically with the advent of minimally invasive arthroscopic foot and ankle surgery. This has become a staple in my practice. Arthroscopic surgeries allow surgeons to insert a small fiber optic camera inside a joint to assist with the surgery. I am able to see much more of the fine detail in your ankle and other small joints to determine a better treatment, and that means a better outcome for you. Some of the conditions that can be treated through arthroscopic surgery include: mild arthritis, bone spurs, torn ligaments, certain types of fractures, joint infections, cartilage defects, loose bodies, and athletic injuries. 

There are also micro cameras (only 1-2 mm in diameter!) in development that will make some diagnostic procedures possible in an office setting.

The benefits of minimally invasive surgery are numerous and include:

  • Smaller incisions
  • Less healing time     
  • Reduced scarring
  • Often has a higher accuracy rate

Non-Surgical Treatment Options

I’ve also been able to provide patients with better options that don’t require surgery thanks to non-surgical advances in foot and ankle surgery. Some of these treatment options will speed up the healing process and even encourage your body to grow new tissue. Platelet rich plasma (PRP) injections used in soft tissue injuries and bone stimulators applied to worrisome fractures are just two examples of advanced science that have improved my patients’ outcomes.

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