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Doc Talk | Ankle replacement surgery

With long hours serving food at Dickinson College, Larry Kennedy couldn’t catch a break from the pain.

“It just practically hurt when I walked on it. It was just a crunching in there when I walked on it,” said Larry Kennedy, of Carlisle.

Kennedy had arthritis in his right ankle. Cortisone shots didn’t help, so Kennedy took the plunge and had a total ankle reconstruction done.

“We do a three-dimensional CAT scan which then generates a report,” said Geisinger Holy Spirit orthopedic surgeon Dr. Michael Werner.

That report is sent out to a place that makes actual-size models of the patients’ tibia and talus bones along with small plastic pieces to help precisely place pins in the bones and get rid of the arthritis. These pieces usually arrive six weeks after the CAT scan is done.

“Getting all this ahead of time allows for accurate measurements, accurate guide pin placement which then means accurate cutting jig placement which then translates to putting the ankle replacement in ideally,” said Dr. Werner.

Doctors say knee replacements don’t require these additional pieces or the time wait because the ankle bones are smaller, and ankle reconstruction must be more precise.

“We don’t have a lot of chance sot get this right on the talus. The talus is a small bone. If we make a bad cut, we sort of have to live with it,” said Dr. Werner.

A bad cut could result in a tilted ankle instead of a straight one, and that could mean the reconstruction won’t last as long. Luckily Kennedy’s ankle is now straight and in good shape.

“After a month or so it started getting better. It still hurts some yet when I first walk on it, it hurts. And then i get it going and it’s pretty good after that,” said Kennedy.

Dr. Werner say the total ankle reconstruction should last 15 to 20 years.

He’s speaking at a seminar Monday, March 26th, 2018 at the Dillsburg Library at 4pm. The event is free. You can register in advance here : https://events.geisinger.org/eventdetails.cfm?id=12594

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