New surgical procedure; 3-D printed ankle replacements

Local News

An ankle bone replacement made from a 3-D printer is helping an Iowa man walk again.

Shaka Robinson learned to live with pain after an accident 20 years ago. 

“I fell out of a car and separated my foot from my tibia and fibula and it was hanging by, like, a piece of skin.”

Dr. Mica Murdoch of Broadlawns Medical Center Foot and Ankle Clinic says, “…he had these two wires.”

Back then, doctors reconstructed his ankle with pins. He went about his life without any big problems until he moved to Iowa this summer.

“I thought I had twisted it in my yard doing yard work… It became inflamed and infected, and I had to come to the hospital.”

Murdoch tells us, “…it just kinda came apart.”

He came to Broadlawns Medical Center and learned the talus bone in his ankle was dead and had to be removed.

Murdoch says, “The nice thing is, 2 years ago, your option would have been to go in and tear out that bone and pack this whole thing of just a bunch of bone graft and fuse up your whole rear foot and ankle and none of it would have ever moved again.”

But, Dr. Murdoch had a new option.

“I first heard about it a year ago. It hadn’t been out much longer than that. Not very many people are doing it.”

A total ankle replacement with a talus bone made from a 3-D printer.

“They use the normal ankle, or the healthy ankle in order to build a mirror image bone that we can use to replace the one that’s been damaged or destroyed.”

There is a replica of the 3D printed talus put into Shaka’s ankle. It weighs less than a pound. It’s made of cobalt chromium. He was the first patient to have this done.

Murdoch tells us, “We’ve had another guy since then, and I’ve got three more on the schedule ready to go. We’re just really enjoying this improvement and this new technology that allows us to offer them something that has not been an option in the past for them.”

Robinson says his new ankle feels “Really good. Really good, actually.”

He was walking two weeks after his surgery.  He’s now doing physical therapy to restore full movement.

Robinson says, “The doc says it will get better and better as time goes on… I’m already impressed. Haha.”

He’s excited to live life to the fullest.

“I can actually do a little moving. Maybe the wife and I can go dancing.”

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