Ankle Replacement: August 15, 2011

Gary Fellows wasn’t willing to hobble through life on a bad ankle.

“It wasn’t a problem with the range of motion it was just strictly pain with the bone against the bone.”

The combination of arthritis and injury along with positive attitude made him a good candidate for an ankle replacement.

“It puts much less stress on the other joints of the lower extremity and the back as apposed to a fusion so I think it’s a very good option for certain people,” says Dr. George Markovich, an orthopedic surgeon on the medical staff of Lee Memorial Health System.

In the past, people had few choices other than joint fusion, which limited the range of movement.

“So the arthroplasties or the replacements are much preferred in terms of the ability to restore the motion and the mechanics and eliminate the pain,” says Dr. Markovich.

The ankle surgery Gary underwent was thirty years in the making. Decades of work went into fine-tuning the artificial joint and the surgical procedure to align it.

“This particular technique involves a mechanical jig and part of that is to place the foot in precise alignment and that requires a lot of pinning and making another incision in the bottom of the foot to bring the rod up to get your alignment right,” says Dr. Markovich.

Five weeks later, Gary is walking with a protective boot.

“There is no pain walking on it, you can feel it but not terribly bad.”

And the healing is right on track.

“I was given permission to start putting a little pressure on it and start going to outpatient therapy, its worked out real great and still no pain,” says Gary.

He looks forward to regaining his footing and moving on with life.

“If there are people with this problem they don’t necessarily have to live with it.”