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Press Releases

Holy Name Hospital Performs First Total Ankle Replacement in Bergen County

Date: 1/12/2010

Forty years ago, James Doolan broke his ankle so severely, that he required surgery. For the past 25 years, Mr. Doolan, a 58 year-old mechanic, had been living in chronic pain due to his injury. His function had deteriorated to the point where any activity was painful—including swimming, his favorite past-time. "Initially, my ankle just hurt in the cold," says Mr. Doolan, "Then it began to hurt all the time."

Motivated by a desire to live without pain and to improve his activity level, Mr. Doolan did his research, which led him to Andrew Brief, M.D., Holy Name Hospital orthopedic surgeon specializing in reconstruction of the foot and ankle. "Mr. Doolan’s profile and strong desire to improve his overall function made him a superb candidate for ankle replacement surgery," notes Dr. Brief.

While replacement of the hip and knee joints are relatively common treatments in the orthopedic world, ankle replacements have been performed sparingly, until very recently. Dr. Brief recently performed the first total ankle replacement at Holy Name, and among the first performed in Bergen County, using the Salto Talaris™ Anatomic Ankle Prosthesis, made by orthopedic manufacturer Tornier. Revolutionary advancements in the design of this implant allow for more accurate replication of the individual’s ankle joint and greater range of motion, providing improved outcomes than previous techniques.

"I was in less pain immediately after the surgery than I was prior to the procedure," explains Mr. Doolan. "I am looking forward to jumping into the ocean, and not being afraid of a wave knocking me down due to my instability." "Total ankle replacement is a revolutionary alternative to the traditional treatment for ankle arthritis, which was ankle fusion. It can dramatically improve the quality of life for patients suffering with chronic pain due to osteoarthritis, as well as other diagnoses," explains Dr. Brief. "It is recommended for patients who have exhausted all other options, such as anti-inflammatory therapy, pain medications, physical therapy, joint fluid injections (viscosupplementation), and surgical joint debridement (removal of bone spurs, loose bodies, and inflamed joint lining)."

"I knew I was in capable hands," Mr. Doolan explains. "I am looking forward to taking normal steps and not baby steps anymore."

To minimize post-operative pain and expedite the recovery, A Holy Name anesthesiologist performed a popliteal nerve block. Most patients require a 48-hour stay in the hospital after the surgery and are required to use crutches or a wheelchair after discharge. During the first three months of recovery, these restrictions are gradually lifted and the patient gradually returns to a normal activity level, under the doctor’s direction. Controlled recovery is important, says Dr. Brief, because it ensures implant stability and maximum range of motion. For more information on total ankle replacement, please call 1-877-HOLYNAME (1-877-465-9626).