Virtual Reality for Ankle Replacement


MIAMI, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — The ankle is the most sprained and strained joint in the body. Over time, cartilage can wear down causing arthritis of the ankle. When medication and braces fail to ease pain, surgery may become an option. Now virtual reality is allowing doctors to customize the surgery before patients even enter the OR. Ivanhoe has the details on ankle replacements.

Running, jumping, walking, kicking, even standing. You use your ankle a lot. But a bad fall can put you on the sidelines.

“My whole body was like a contortionist. The pain had gotten so bad that I was pulling my foot and the amount of walking I could do was minimal,” stated Bonnie Henshaw.

Bonnie had severe ankle arthritis.

“She tried anti-inflammatory. She tried bracing. She tried cortisone injection. After a while, it just became too painful that none of those things were working,” shared Clive Woods, MD, a board-certified orthopedic surgeon and foot & ankle specialist at Westside Regional Medical Center in Plantation, Florida.

“That was a Band-Aid over a problem. I knew I couldn’t live like that,” said Bonnie.

So, Dr. Woods suggested an ankle replacement. With this surgery, Dr. Woods used virtual reality to practice the surgery beforehand.

“Using the Oculus, you can actually be in the OR, go step by step as far as drilling, cutting, you know, looking at x-rays,” explained Dr. Woods.

Making for a quicker and more efficient surgery.

Dr. Woods continued, “The more efficient you are in surgery, less chance of infection because of less or time, less anesthesia.”

Bonnie was able to go home the same day she had the surgery and now looks forward to living out her golden years without ankle pain.

“The older you get, you’re looking out the other end and you want to get out there and live and enjoy life,” exclaimed Bonnie.

After surgery, Dr. Woods recommends patients to limit high-impact activities, such as running and jumping. But Dr. Woods says sports such as doubles tennis or pickleball are okay to play.

Contributors to this news report include: Milvionne Chery, Producer; Roque Correa, Editor; and Judy Reich, Videographer.


BACKGROUND: In the United States, around 7 percent of people aged 18 to 44 report having arthritis, while 29 percent of people aged 45 to 64 report having it. Then, almost 50 percent of people aged 65 and older report having the disease. Ankle arthritis can cause pain, stiffness, and swelling, especially after walking or exercising. Arthritis often develops in an ankle that was sprained or broken in the past. The symptoms are sometimes mistaken for the old injury causing the pain to return. The defining feature of osteoarthritis is the breakdown of articular cartilage. This type of cartilage normally covers and protects the surfaces of bones where they meet at the joints. In the ankle, a thin layer of articular cartilage covers the bottom of the shin’s tibia and fibula bones and the top of the foot’s talus bone.

(Source:,-From%202013%20to&text=Of%20people%20aged%2018%20to,ever%20reported%20doctor%2Ddiagnosed%20arthritis and

SURGERY + VIRTUAL REALITY: There is more than one kind of surgery to treat foot and ankle arthritis. In arthroscopic surgery, a small instrument about the size of a pencil, an arthroscope, is inserted into a joint. The instrument projects an image onto a monitor the surgeon can view and then use tiny forceps, knives, and shavers to clean the joint area. Fusion surgery, also called arthrodesis, involves fusing bones together with the use of rods, pins, screws, or plates. After healing, the bones remain fused together. Joint replacement surgery involves replacing the ankle joint with artificial implants and is used only in rare cases. There is a new virtual reality training module for total ankle replacement using a tool called INFINITY Total Ankle. This is reported to be the world’s first virtual reality tool addressing total ankle arthroplasty. The training platform is designed for surgeons to address new techniques and boost procedural confidence. Modules provide on-demand, realistic, and educational experiences that are repeatable and measurable to help surgeons reach proficiency with the device.

(Source: and

ADVANCES IN TOTAL ANKLE REPLACEMENT: Christopher DiGiovanni, MD, Chief of the Foot and Ankle Center and Director of the Foot and Ankle Fellowship Program at Massachusetts General Hospital, has been at the forefront of studying total ankle arthroplasty design and implementation of newer generation ankle replacement devices and protocols. Among newer models is one designed and patented by DiGiovanni and is the first FDA-approved third-generation design to enable insertion through either a medial or lateral approach. New models are now put in as press-fit designs that have greater geometrical biocompatibility. They come with a greater degree of freedom that prevents undue stress transfer without being unstable, require less bony resection for insertion so that revision is easier, and offers options for significant modularity to provide for a better fit. Many are coated with tiny beads that allow for the surrounding bone to grow into the prosthesis, forming a lasting bond that allows for bony remodeling over time.


* For More Information, Contact:

Bruna Doering, Director of PR and Communications

Free weekly e-mail on Medical Breakthroughs from Ivanhoe. To sign up: