Goa’s first total ankle replacement surgery at Healthway…

By Tara Narayan

WHEN did you last spare a thought for your ankle, your two ankles attached to your two feet, that’s where the scaffolding of the human skeleton ends – the feet. Most of us definitely do not look at our feet as many times as we look at our face!
But the ankles play a very big role in mobility of the human being, says Dr Beat Hintermann, who travelled all the way from Basel n Switzerland to Goa to perform two ankle surgeries on two male patients on Febraury 23, 2024 at the Healthway Hospital in Goa. One of the patients is a Goan.
According to Goa’s most well-known orthopaedic surgeon Dr Mahendra Kudchadkar, chief of orthopaedic surgery department at the Healthway Hospitals, who led the team for this critical and first of its kind total ankle replacement surgery, “We’re extremely happy that the surgery was a success and everything went by smoothly. Surgeries like the one we performed in Goa offer hope to patients suffering from ailments which severely impair their quality of life.”
Speaking to media people at a press conference recently, he said hip surgeries are faster and comparatively easy to do, compared to the delicate surgery procedures required for ankle bones which are packed with cartilage and soft tissues which degenerate over time. The main reason for ankle degeneration is age-old arthritis although there are other reasons too when young sportspeople or others injure their ankles…trauma injuries in which the ankle may be crushed, bones broken — if neglected infection sets in to contribute to acute or chronic pain. Painful ankles make anyone’s life hellish. Unfortunately, most of us don’t bother about our feet and neglect them till damage is compounded. But it is never too late to consider ankle surgery if that is what is required, this kind of surgery has been neglected in mainstream healthcare so far in India.
An impaired ankle makes life very difficult for a patient for movement is everything, isn’t it? Consider ankle surgery! Ankle surgery is one of the most skilled surgeries and rarely done even abroad where the cost factor is formidable. But those who seek a better quality of life may try to avail of ankle surgery, and Dr Beat Hintermann (MD, Orthopaedics, Chairman of the Clinic for Orthopaedics & Traumatology at Baselland, Switzerland) started taking an interest in the human ankle way back in 1996. He has so far performed more than 2,000 ankle surgeries of all kinds.
He and his wife Dr Roxa Ruiz (foot and ankle surgeon at the same clinic in Switzerland), with Healthway’s anaesthetist Dr Sanjeev Juwarkar, and the entire team together planned meticulously and worked well to execute the two ankle surgeries for the hospital’s patients to ensure the best possible outcome for them. For ankle surgery special implants are required made of cobalt chromium and polythelene. This is what hijacks the cost of the surgery in the case of total ankle replacement but afterwards post-operative care is a big thing.
Replying to a query Dr Beat exclaimed, No, ankle surgery is not robotic assisted as in the case of hip surgery nowadays, which is easier surgery for larger bones are involved. Dr Kudchadkar quipped he may spend may be 28 minutes doing a robotic assisted-knee surgery with excellent outcome! But the case with ankle replacement surgery is different and it is the surgeon’s knowledge and skill which counts and is crucial, but “the success percentage is as much as 84% in knee replacement surgery.”
Patients with severely compromised social lifestyle should consider it. How much would a total knee replacement surgery cost? About Rs5 lakh minimally at least. Said Dr Kudchadkar who is keen that Healthway Hospital stay upbeat by introducing new and innovative treatments, concluded, “Our goal is to improve the quality of life for our patients and to set new standards of excellence in orthopaedic care.”
And now they’ve got the guidance of Dr Beat Hintermann at Healthway Hospital. Dr Hintermann added that ankle surgery is not simple because of the soft tissues involved, when the hip or knees or ankles are dislocated it affects our social life because mobility is compromised.” He says, today it is possible to do total ankle replacement surgery and it is affordable. Various parts have to be replaced like cartilage and joints and we have specially designed implants to treat this.” The implants have to be acquired from abroad until it is possible to make them in India.
Needless to say the successful completion of Goa’s first total ankle replacement surgery opens new avenues for those suffering from ankle conditions. It is thumbs up for the expertise and dedication of the Healthway Hospital’s surgical team for introducing such advanced orthopaedic care in areas of the body hitherto neglected. It’s surely a moment for the hospital to take a bow!

Do you know….

Your foot, my foot! Know something about it. Each foot has 26 bones, more than 100 muscles, tendons, ligaments, all of which support, balance, make you mobile on your feet. The 26 bones are of the tarsal, metatarsal and phalanges. Yes, as we age and if we’ve been feeding ourselves all wrong, we suffer from wear and tear and arthritis – pain of various denomination. Dark ankles indicate venous insufficiency. There are seven bones in the ankle itself, 14 in each foot, together 26 bones; there are 33 joints working effortlessly courtesy muscles, tendons, ligaments. There are also synovial juices facilitating smooth movement…
No, your ankles and feet are not a joke. The oldest joke in healthcare is that we start dying from the feet upwards. Diabetics especially should review their diet and exercise quota daily! The general law of life is move it or lose it. This is to say worry about your ankles and feet from today and now…take care of your feet, get rid of the dark fungal toe! Lose weight so that the skeleton doesn’t collapse on you. Eat qualitatively better…more protein, more fibre, more organic nutrients. Less carbohydrates. No refined sugars, please. Love your ankles, love your feet!

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