Medical Moment: Repairing ankle fractures faster

Published: Oct. 11, 2022 at 5:43 PM EDT
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(WNDU) - The ankle fracture is one of the most common existing injuries, at an estimated 3.9 to 10.2 percent of adult fractures.

The most injured part of the bone in an ankle fracture is the fibula.

The average American takes 8,000 to 10,000 steps a day, which adds up to 115,000 miles in a lifetime. This is more than four times the circumference of the globe!

It’s no wonder ankle fractures, usually caused by the twisting of an ankle, are so common. If the bone is only broken in one place, it can usually be treated with surgery. If a fracture does require surgery generally, it’s treated through an incision. Due to the ankle joint and bone placement being compounded, healing can become slowed and result in other complications regarding one’s physical health.

Now, new technology is allowing patients to get up and get moving faster than ever before.

“Traditionally, what we typically do is make an incision over the broken bone,” said David Garras, an orthopedic surgeon. “We put a plate over the top of it with screws going in and the plate sits on the outside of the bone, which is directly really under the skin.”

At some point, the plates and screws will have to be removed. Now, orthopedic surgeon David Garras is using new technology, called the Fibulock Fibular Nail, to fix the fracture.

“What the newer technology has allowed us to do now is actually develop implants that are specific for these types of ankle fractures that have bone fixation above the fracture and below the fracture,” Dr. Garras explained.

The new technology uses several tiny incisions to place the rod inside, not outside, the fibula. Patients can walk on the ankle immediately and return to normal activity within two weeks. There is less atrophy and weakness. Less risk of hardware problems and less risk of infection.

Making it quicker and less painful to get moving again.

Dr. Garras believes the Fibulock Fibular Nail will save medical costs in the long run as the nails rarely have to be removed, so patients can avoid a second surgery and the increased risk of infections.