Ankle implant enriches grandfather’s life

Billy Albritton of East Peoria, Ill., was in constant pain. He had surgery more than 10 years ago to remove a large cartilage growth from his ankle, and with the decreased amount of cartilage he could hardly walk or stand.

Zimmer Trabecular Metal Total AnkleMany local doctors suggested ankle fusion surgery—a common solution—that would join his anklebones together. This procedure would eliminate the pain, but would also leave his ankle immobile.

Research on other options led Albritton to University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, where an innovative implant—the Zimmer Trabecular Metal Total Ankle—had been developed.

Charles Saltzman, MD, chair of orthopedics at University of Utah Health Care and former long-time Iowa faculty member, was one of the original investigators who developed the biomechanics of the implant during his time at UI.

“It’s a novel product, different from anything else on the market,” says Saltzman.

Ned Amendola, MD
Ned Amendola, MD

The UI Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and Rehabilitation specializes in ankle

replacement surgery. According to UI orthopedic surgeon Annunziato “Ned” Amendola, MD, the Zimmer implant offers three main benefits:

  • Better healing because an incision is made on the side of the ankle rather than the front
  • Normal function because the implant is curved to match the ankle’s natural anatomy
  • More effectiveness and durability because of top-of-the-line materials

“It’s new on the market, but it’s becoming more of a go-to treatment,” says Amendola.

The next steps include following patients like Albritton to document the implant’s impact on quality of life.

“Iowa is known for long-term follow-up care,” says Amendola. “We’ll need to look at those results to confirm the initial enthusiasm for the implant.”

Since Albritton’s ankle replacement surgery at UI Hospitals and Clinics in April 2013, the 69-year-old grandfather is back to the active lifestyle he once enjoyed.

“I still have a lot of life left to live,” says Albritton. “There’s nothing I can’t do now. I’m back.”

For more information about orthopedic care at the University of Iowa, call 319-356-2223.

–Winter 2014-15