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2 Failed Ankle Surgeries

by Cheryl
(Murray, KY)

Trimal fracture in Aug 2014, surgery with plates and screws to repair immediately following. In the next year my ankle basically collapsed (as described by the orthopaedic surgeon). Dealt with debilitating pain for almost a year. Had lt ankle arthrodesis in April of 2016, all f-ups went well, looked great. Had xray in Dec 2016, and there are broken screws, and the whole ankle appears to have slid inward. Had a CT scan today and will see ortho for f-u next week. My question is: What are my options? I was very upset in the office and the dr only said this doesn't necessarily mean another surgery...we could try bone stim. But he also said that everything is healed already. So how would the stim help? I don't want to be on pain management for the rest of my life...I'm only 37...and I've done everything as I was told to do, after both surgeries. The only explanation I've been offered (as to the failed results) is that it was just a really bad break. Any input?


Hi Cheryl,

I do not know how much help I can be to you but I will try my best to put things in perspective.
No two traumatic injuries are the same, meaning the success of the surgery is dependent on the degree of trauma and the skill and ingenuity of the surgeon. In most of these types of cases, you end up in the emergency room and are assigned a surgeon who then goes ahead and performs surgery.
In many instances the goal of this type of surgery is to "just try and put everything back together". In some cases this is easier said then done.
My point is, complications of this nature are not so uncommon. The worst part of this is you reach a point of diminishing returns with repeated surgeries as there is only so much you can do with the damaged parts.
As you state, if your problem now is that some screws have broken, but there are no open fractures, then I am not so sure what a bone stimulator is going to do for you.
If this were my ankle, the first thing I would do is get another opinion. I know nothing about Murray, KY, but I would seek out a large university teaching hospital, if there is one reasonably close to you, for another opinion.
Usually in this type of environment, surgeons have seen and treated the more complicated cases that come along and may have more ideas on how to deal with your particular situation.
As a last resort there is always the possibility a total ankle fusion will be offered to you. The obvious drawback is that you will no longer be able to bend your ankle and will have to learn how to walk somewhat differently, but the upside is that hopefully you will no longer have any pain.
Keep in mind that I am offering advice blindly, as I have not examined you, nor have I seen any x-rays, but I think your best chance for success will come from a different surgeon.

Marc Mitnick DPM

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