How Engineering Enables Patient-Specific Ankle Replacement Surgery

Posted on 
December 15, 2022

It's bad news when, due to athletic injury, trauma or simply aging, the protective cartilage between our bones starts to wear away, causing joint pain, stiffness and swelling. Osteoarthritis can affect any of the joints in the body, but since our feet and ankles support our entire body weight, ankle arthritis can have a severe impact. In fact, as we move, our ankles are first to absorb shock. And, while there may not be signs of an immediate emergency, lingering or chronic pain - which may come from the ankle but manifest itself in the legs, hips, or spine - should always be checked out by a specialist.

For patients with ankle arthritis, even merely walking on uneven ground or climbing stairs can pose a painful challenge. Now, though, advancements in technology have made ankle replacement a viable option for many, Dr. Andrew Wohler explains. Not only can replacement surgery preserve some motion at the ankle joint, if can effectively reduce the pain associated with arthritis.  

Still, surgery is never the first choice. More conservative measures must be exhausted first, including:

  • bracing
  • anti-inflammatory medication
  • activity modification
  • steroid injections

In the event these other measures have failed to reduce pain and return the patient to function, ankle arthroplasty is one of the surgical options that may be recommended. And, while no surgery is without complication or risk, recent data show that 90% of implants are surviving ten years without need for revision.

At Forté Sports Medicine and Orthopedics, Dr. Wohler uses Wright Medical/Stryker's broad line of implants, using a CT scan to produce patient-specific cutting jigs "tailor-made" to fit the dimensions of the patient's foot. The aptly named the "Prophecy Protocol" uses both the individual patient's data and the surgeon's preferences to help a prototyping machine produce "guides" and engineered implant components. The machine creates "guides" to set the location of cuts. This technology, as Wright perfectly describes it, is the gold standard for end-stage ankle arthritis.

At Forté, advanced engineering and orthopedic expertise combine to enable patient-specific ankle implant surgery for better outcomes and lives free of ankle arthritis.

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