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Arthrex manufactures device that could transform bunion surgery

Reporter: Amy Oshier
Published: Updated:

Southwest Florida-based medical manufacturer Arthrex recently won a prestigious Edison Award for designing a new device that may transform bunion surgery.

One in three people in the U.S. have one and it often leads to severe pain.

Tiffany White is one of the first patients in the country to undergo a new procedure developed by Arthrex, known for orthopedic advances, the company unveiled a new device that corrects bunions with less pain and downtime.

“Just walking, in general, was painful. And so I finally said, this is a quality of life issue now that I need to take care of,” White said. “By the time they got it approved, I had waited quite a while and was quite anxious to get it.”

Orthopedic foot and ankle surgeon Dr. Richard De Asla performed her operation.

“In a bunion, the first metatarsal, this one here tends to drift with time creating that characteristic prominence that people call the bunion,” De Asla said.

As White’s bunion grew, so did her pain.

“The strategy is to somehow cut this bone and translate it back and eliminate that bump. And in this particular technique, we make the cut right across the neck of that bone. And we have a special jig designed by Arthrex that pushes the head over there, and allows us to place the screws in there pretty precisely,” De Asla said.

The innovative jig precisely guides the cut bone and holds everything in position while titanium hardware is placed to support the alignment. Coupled with using extremely small, specialized surgical tools dramatically downsized the procedure.

This new bunionectomy represents a big step forward.

“It makes it more reproducible. It reduces the amount of scarring, reduces the amount of swelling, may speed up the healing process,” De Asla said.

Aroiund 400,000 bunion surgeries are performed each year in the U.S., most commonly in women, who are more likely to wear shoes that aggravate the condition.

A large majority would rather suffer in stilettos than undergo surgery.

The traditional operation requires a large incision and takes up to three months to heal. The procedure shaves the downtime in half.

“It’s really a combination of the less dissection and disruption of the soft tissues in the precise placement of the fixation that we do with our jig,” said Arthrex Group Product Manager Chris Powell.

“Because we have a guide, and we’re able to shift the toe with minimal incisions which is really what patients want, they want to be able to get back to activities quicker without the scarring,” said Pete Denove, senior director of product management at Arthrex.

As for White, she said she feels like her scarring will eventually fade.

“I doubt that you’ll ever know I even had it,” White said.

Like other bunion procedures, this should be covered by insurance. Find out more about the link here.