Unity Hospital patient receives new ankle implant

Posted at: 05/02/2013 9:32 PM | Updated at: 05/13/2013 10:41 AM

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A patient at Unity Hospital is the first person across the region to receive a new ankle implant. It's something Diane Briggs hopes will keep her moving for a long time.     

Diane Briggs says she was vacuuming her pool 15 years ago when she rolled her ankle and ended up breaking off a piece of bone that was in the ankle joint.

She was getting ready for another surgery that would have fused the joint together. Something this horseback rider, volunteer firefighter and research nurse wasn't quite comfortable with.

Briggs said, “Fusing is permanent, taking a joint that moves and making it stiff. I have horses and that would make riding difficult. It would make doing a lot of things difficult.

But Dr. Luke Loveys, the Chief of Orthopedics at Unity Hospital, found another possible option. A new ankle implant introduced in March.

Dr. Luke Loveys said, “It provides the ability to use an implant that's much more anatomically designed. It helps with stability as far as hopefully improve the longevity of the implant.”

He says he is cautiously optimistic about the results.

Dr. Loveys said, “It's a new design and new implant and so long-term studies need to be done to see what the results will be.”

Meanwhile, Briggs says she's ready to get back to living life.

Briggs said, “I'm hoping to be able to do everything I was doing before.  I'm optimistic I'll be riding again, going on fire calls, helping transport people, going through the airport for work and I really am anticipating 5K's and 10K's in my future. Maybe not running, shuffling along and being active. I mean I'm too young to be sitting in a chair.”

Briggs says she's hopefully she can run down the hallway for the open house at the Unity Joint Replacement Center.

The University of Rochester Medical Center, which has performed about 40 total ankle replacement surgeries since 2001, helped develop this particular implant, the Zimmer Total Ankle replacement. Later this month, URMC will host a teaching session focusing on the implant for orthopaedic surgeons from across Upstate New York. The event will feature device inventor Charles Saltzman, M.D.

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