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Advances in health and medicine.
Marjorie Bekaert Thomas
Advances in health and medicine.
Orthopedics Channel
Reported April 17, 2009

Custom Ankle Replacements

BALTIMORE (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Two million people visit the doctor every year because of pain from ankle arthritis or fractures. For some, ankle fusion was the only option to ease the pain, but it made the ankle stiff. A personalized ankle replacement could be the answer for those who want to put some spring back in their step.

A spring-time stroll with her granddaughter is a simple pleasure Janis Taylor never takes for granted.

"It feels very liberating," Taylor told Ivanhoe.

A fall that lead to a broken ankle more than 14 years ago was the beginning of a painful journey.

"My foot ended up on my knee and broke bones in the bottom of my leg," Taylor said.

Two ankle replacements failed. She was confined to a wheelchair.

"My freedom was at stake," Taylor said.

That's when she turned to Mark Myerson, M.D., a foot and ankle reconstruction expert who's helped many professional athletes get back into form. He creates customized ankle replacements for his patients. Traditional replacements are smaller and depend on support from the ankle. The problem -- sometimes the bones shatter under the pressure. Dr. Myerson's design extends deep into the heel bone, stabilizing the foot and preventing collapse.

"We can build this up into any custom device we want and now salvage the ankles that were previously non-correctable at all," Dr. Myerson, an orthopedic surgeon at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, Md., told Ivanhoe.

Before finding Dr. Myerson, Taylor's options were either amputation or ankle fusion, when plates and screws fuse the bones together. It relieves pain but leaves the joint stiff, limits movement, and would have shortened her leg by an inch and a half. With the customized replacement, her ankle is flexible and she only lost a quarter inch of height.

She's a grandmother who once feared she'd spend retirement sitting down and now approaches life one step at a time.

"For awhile, I didn't think I'd get to this point," Taylor said. "I'd always prayed i would."

Good candidates for the ankle replacement have had an unsuccessful ankle replacement in the past or have soft bones. After the replacement, patients have to stay away from impact activities but can still be active.


More Information

Click here for additional research on Custom Ankle Replacements

Click here for Ivanhoe's full-length interview with Dr. Myerson

If this story or any other Ivanhoe story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Melissa Medalie at


Mercy Medical Center
Baltimore, MD

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