Lorraine Dusky was a runner for more than 30 years with ribbons and medals from 5k races. But her recent “celebrity” status came as a result of an ankle injury and condition that ended her racing days. On Aug. 8, she became the first patient to have a total ankle replacement at Mather Hospital.
It began with a sprained ankle, and while her doctor eventually cleared her to go back to running, that ankle began giving her problems. “Ultimately there was this little pain, and then a little more pain, and it kept building and building,” said Lorraine, who lives in Sag Harbor.
“She has been dealing with right ankle arthritis for several years,” said John Yu, MD, an orthopedic surgeon at Mather who specializes in foot and ankle problems and conditions. Dr. Yu, who performed Lorraine’s surgery, received his orthopedic training at the prestigious NYU Langone Hospital for Joint Diseases in Manhattan. “She had tried steroids and non-surgical management to no avail.”
Dr. Yu had explained to Lorraine the options of ankle replacement and ankle fusion, the latter a procedure in which the bones that form the joint are fused together. Lorraine, a journalist and author, did her research and learned that ankle replacements were becoming increasingly popular following improvements in their design over the last decade.
She was expected to begin walking on her new ankle within a month after her surgery, followed by physical therapy. “She has to retrain herself how to walk properly again,” said Dr. Yu, noting that Dusky will have a greater range of motion with her new ankle than the arthritis allowed. Dr. Yu said Lorraine can eventually walk, hike, swim, bicycle and engage in other non-demanding activities.
According to the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons, ankle implants generally last at least a decade. The New York Times, citing industry estimates, recently reported that an estimated 4,400 patients this year are expected to have ankle replacement surgery. There are four FDA-approved prostheses, including the STAR™ Ankle metal and plastic prosthesis selected by Dr. Yu, which has more than 19 years of clinical experience and in its current design has been implanted in more than 15,200 patients worldwide.