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Surgeons Rethink Approach to Minimal Incision Foot and Ankle Surgery
Date:2/20/2008

Patients reap multiple benefits, but surgeons rethinking one-size-fits-all approach

LONG BEACH, Calif., Feb. 20 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Many patients who undergo foot and ankle surgery are recovering faster and with smaller surgical scars, thanks to new minimal incision techniques and tools. At the same time, foot and ankle surgeons are questioning whether smaller is always better.

"In the 70s and 80s, there was a trend towards small incisions for the sake of small incisions," says Lawrence Ford, DPM, FACFAS. He will be presenting a lecture on small incisions Thursday at the 66th Annual Scientific Conference of the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons (ACFAS). "Surgeons are now recognizing that the incision has to match the procedure and the patient."

Minimal incisions provide several potential benefits for patients, including smaller scars, faster tissue and bone healing, and fewer complications such as pain, bleeding and infections. These techniques can also reduce complications for high risk patients, such as those with circulatory problems caused by smoking, diabetes or other conditions.

The disadvantage of minimal incision procedures is loss of visual exposure, or the surgeon's ability to see the injured tissues or bones with the naked eye. The foot is a compact body part, filled with 26 bones, 30 joints, and more than 100 muscles, ligaments and tendons.

"Depending on the patient and the procedure, a wider exposure may be preferable to a small opening that is made just for the sake of a small scar," says Ford. "More surgeons are embracing an approach that matches the incision size to the individual patient and condition being treated."

Ford gives the example of a patient who falls off of a ladder and shatters his or her heel bone, requiring an operation. For some patients, a small incision technique may be appropriate. It would allow the surgeon, guided by miniature cameras and scopes, to in
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SOURCE American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons
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