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Not happy with the TightRope fixation procedure

by Michele
(McGuire AFB, NJ)

Hello Doctor, my name is Michele and I am a healthy, active 29 year old female. I began having pain in my foot a little over a year ago. I went to a few specialists and none had any answers. I believed my pain was caused from recently taking up tennis. But when walking became extremely painful, I was concerned and more proactive with finding out the cause. I finally met with a doctor who told me within the first five minutes of my consultation that I had a bunion. I did not want to take medication to alleviate the pain and was desperate to "fix" this problem. This doctor told me about this new procedure, the TightRope fixation, and after discussing this option with my husband, I decided to go ahead with it. I had the procedure done on Halloween of last year (2007). The first few weeks I believed that the surgery would be a success. The pain I was in was due to the surgery and I believed I was healing properly. But after about 3 months, I felt I was in more pain than before the surgery and discussed this with my doctor, who believed that I shouldn't be in as much pain. I felt cornered because I believed my doctor either didn't believe me or felt I was being deceptive. So, I stopped making appointments and have been living every day in pain. Occasionally I will take an over the counter anti-inflammatory. But, it's been almost a year since the surgery and every day the pain gets worse. I have limited movement in my big toe and wearing shoes causes me an enormous amount of pain. I had clicking in my big toe every time I bent it/walked previous to surgery and was told that the surgery would correct that. It has not.

My question to you is how do I go about having the hardware removed from my foot? I feel as though I was better off before the surgery with occasional pain rather than now with constant pain. I am no longer in contact with the doctor who performed the procedure because of personal reasons.
I appreciate your time and am grateful that I found your site. As you know, with my particular surgery being quite "new", it is hard to find any information about it.
Thanks again,
Michele (New Jersey)

Hi Michele,
I am sorry your surgery was not successful and as mentioned in my bunion article the tight rope procedure is a new procedure and for that reason none of know the ultimate success rate.
I am not clear on one point; is your present pain the same as your pain prior to surgery or is this a new type of pain in slightly different area of the foot?
If this is a new pain then obviously the procedure does not agree with you; if this is the old pain, perhaps it was not your bunion that actually hurt. What bothers me is that the first couple of doctors you went to did not discuss the bunion as the source of your foot pain.
In any event the hardware should be removable, but of course it will take another surgery.
Find yourself a good doctor down where you live and between you and your new doctor decide if your present pain is actually the result of the procedure performed or if it the original problem. If it is from the procedure, then have the hardware removed, if not, then let your new doctor find the source of your pain.
Marc Mitnick DPM

Comments for Not happy with the TightRope fixation procedure

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Aug 17, 2015
avoid tightrope
by: Julie

Avoid this surgery. I had it four years ago for bunion and hammertoe. Foot now quite deformed. Big toe leans left. Hammer toe shrunk to half its length, turned sideways and sticks up. Have to tape it down or I can't walk. Nerve damage, numbness and scar tissue. I, too, was promised the sun and the moon by a very reputable doctor.

Sep 05, 2014
same thing
by: Anonymous

Foot worse one year after the mini tightrope. I am in my 40s and was perfect in regard to waiting and wearing boot.
Burning under all small toes, swelling above them, paralyzed second toe stuck to the first. New bunion that is the bigger than the first.
DONT LET YOUR DOC do this surgery.

Jan 07, 2014
Mini tightrope nightmare
by: Jodie Martin

Dec 2009 I went to a foot Doctor for a second digit hammer toe issue. In the 5 mins I was in there she pointed out I had a bunion, same foot. Then stated "while I'm in there"... Why don't I fix your bunion with this New wonderful Mini Tightrope. Then stated I wish I had a piece to show you I could literary hang off of it. My bunion did not hurt yet but made sense to do it all in one surgery. A bit after the surgery I'm complaining of awful pain still not out of the walking boot yet. Come to find out the tightrope broke and gave me a nonunion of the big toe metarsil and shattered my second toe metarsil and my bone died. 6 surgerys, 7th attempting to replace with cadaver bone. That also didn't work.. And let's not leave out RSD.. I need a lawyer. Something so simple changed my life and my family's.

Aug 30, 2011
Initial post-op X Rays negative,but I KNOW something is wrong with my TightRope
by: Joseph

Had my TightRope 2 weeks ago,and was healing very well,or so I thought. Walking slowly, while wearing a walking boot, I heard something snap (like when your knees or ankles snap after prolonged sitting). For 10 minutes pain was unreal, and within the next 24 hours, my foot began swelling more than it had ever swollen post-op, and I absolutely could not walk. Also, the lower half of my foot became red and somewhat warm. My Dr got XRays and said nothing obvious had changed. I'm going back to see him tomorrow. Any thoughts? Is this a broken toe, broken wire or rejection of hardware ? How does Avascular Necrosis presnt ?

Dec 21, 2010
Anyone with a success story of mini-tight-rope bunion procedure?
by: shelley

Okay, so it is a new procedure, so was the laparascopic gall bladder removal and so many other new surgical methods. My experience in the operating room showed me without doubt that the level and interest of surgeons of many years practice is "do I have to change?" Often the surgical techs or the equipment representatives on site"train" the surgeons to use and manipulate the equipement. Therefore with such loosy goosy "learning" techhiques the surgeon begins to practice what the patients are demanding without any overseeing organization to clinically determine if the surgeon is adequately trained to perform the surgeon and has appropriate patient outcomes. The only feedback is the lawsuit.

Okay. So, is it possible that a similar story line can be drawn in the cases that did not work well and patient outcome was miserable?

That leads me to my dilema. I need corrective foot surgery too. THis new method is appealing as I am active and would like to remain so. Long rehabilitation is not desirable on many levels.

How do I get info on who is trained from the original performers of this surgery? I need a list of providers, their city locations, practice identity, and hopefully their formal training in this specific procedure. Then, how do I get info on the patient outcomes of any one receiving the surgery?
Okay too much to ask. What can you tell me?

Feb 15, 2009
by: Anonymous

I also had tightrope and it ruined my life! My second toe broke ... something i have now heard is a common problem with this surgery which my doctor never told me about. In fact I had a second opinion and was told by a doctor that she would never recommend this surgery for anyone under the age of 70 due to the stress it puts on the bones. I've been to a pain specialist for the past year and now have to have a more traditional bunion surgery ... and go through the pain all over again!

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