Science

Watch Now: Advanced Treatment for Ankle Fractures

(Video: Watch foot and ankle orthopedic surgeon Christopher Hodgkins, M.D. explain an advanced treatment for ankle fractures that helps patients recover quicker and return to previous levels of activity.)

When 20-year old international figure skater Luiz Pereira dislocated his ankle during practice, the young athlete’s top concern was how soon he could return to his sport. Six weeks after surgery to stabilize his ankle joint and remove a piece of loose cartilage dislodged during the break, Mr. Pereira was walking on a rapidly-healing ankle.

Key to his accelerated recovery is an advanced treatment approach to fixing broken ankles, says Christopher Hodgkins, M.D., a Baptist Health Medical Group orthopedic surgeon with Miami Orthopedics & Sports Medicine Institute. Dr. Hodgkins, who specializes in foot and ankle injuries and conditions, uses an arthroscope to pinpoint the ankle fracture and select areas of surrounding cartilage or bone fragments that need to be repaired.

“By looking inside the joint during surgery, we’re able to very precisely locate damaged tissue and ligaments between the bones, remove loose fragments and shave torn cartilage, allowing us to free the area and avoid entrapment, which can be a post-surgical condition that leads to chronic pain and swelling later on,” Dr. Hodgkins.

The surgical procedure takes approximately 10 minutes to perform and is done through two small incisions at the ankle. In repairing fractures such as Mr. Pereira’s, Dr. Hodgkins also uses internal fixators – small devices that attach to bones – to put back together and stabilize the ankle joint. Advantages of the minimally-invasive approach include less scarring and accelerated recovery, he says.

“Anyone can sustain these types of injuries, but it’s important to be assessed properly to determine the most effective treatment,” said the foot-and-ankle specialist. In addition to being a Board-certified orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Hodgkins completed a fellowship in foot and ankle surgery at Florida Orthopaedic Institute.

“Six months after my surgery I’m glad to be back on the ice and feeling good,” said Mr. Pereira.  “I am very relieved that my recovery is in line with the initial prognosis of being able to heal and get back to the level I need to be in order to compete internationally.”

According to Dr. Hodgkins, not every ankle fracture needs to be addressed surgically. “But for those who fit the criteria — particularly those who are young, athletic and very active — the results of this advanced, minimally-invasive approach demonstrate it’s an optimal treatment. Being able to treat patients of all ages and watching them return to their previous levels of activity is very rewarding.”

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