Ankle Procedure Has High Success Rate
Ginger Allen’s right ankle kept coming out of its socket. Years of training exercises and jumping out of airplanes for the military might do that to a person.
Kelly Pack often turned his left ankle out merely by kicking a pebble. The former Arundel High School and Anne Arundel Community College soccer player broke that ankle at 19. He reached a point in his mid-30s where he could never be sure of his footing.
Ms. Allen, of Annapolis, and Mr. Pack, of Glen Burnie, both cried “uncle” when they could no longer stand the pain and headed to orthopedic surgeon Ed Holt, M.D., for help.
“We see a lot of people who have struggled for years with an ankle giving way and buckling,” said Dr. Holt, of The Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Center. “Some sprain an ankle four or five times a year, or they are uncomfortable walking on flat ground. The patients frequently don’t know something can be done about it.”
That something is an outpatient procedure called the Brostrom, which has a high success rate. “It’s among the most reliable procedures we do,” Dr. Holt said. “The patient can walk normally on the repaired ankle a couple of days after surgery, wearing a boot.” Ms. Allen and Mr. Pack are representative of essentially all of the more than 600 patients Dr. Holt has treated with this procedure over the past 19 years.
He cleans out broken pieces of cartilage and sometime bits of bone from the ankle arthroscopically. “We smooth out cartilage that’s left and any rough spots,” Dr. Holt explained. “Then we reconstruct the ligaments to hold the ankle.” The surgeon reattaches tissue to the bones, reinforces the ankle by overlapping pieces of old ligament, then weaves it together to make new ligaments that are “stronger than the original equipment.”
Ginger Allen can attest to that. Before her surgery, she became interested in agility training with her energetic red merle Border Collie, Tee. Her limitations became apparent early in the training process, which involves keeping pace with and coaching a lightning-quick, 35-pound canine athlete. “After that surgery, my ankle certainly is better than new,” Ms. Allen said. “It hasn’t provided me a moment’s pain.”
Kelly Pack has had a great outcome, as well. After years of not playing sports, he now plays softball regularly, with the added reassurance of an ankle brace when he takes the field. “I’ll eventually get the other one done,”he said.