Keyhole techniques getting people back on their feet
Dr Sonja Schleimer
Minimally-invasive techniques in bunion surgery are relatively new to Australia but foot and ankle surgeon Sonja Schleimer has years of experience after training in Paris under one of its pioneers.
"MIS bunion surgery evolved in Europe over the last 15 years but it has only been available in Australia for about the last five years or so," said Dr Schleimer.
"I was very fortunate to spend some time operating with Dr Oliver Laffenetre who was heavily involved in developing and evolving MIS techniques for forefoot surgery.
"I observed the benefits of this method of bunion surgery during my time in Paris and I have found that my patients have a much more predictable and speedy recovery when compared to standard open procedures."
Dr Schleimer said one of the biggest benefits of minimally invasive bunion surgery was it allowed patients to mobilise in the immediate post operative phase.
"The surgical cuts are much smaller than with a traditional bunionectomy so pain and swelling are much less, and patients are able to mobilise independently immediately following surgery resulting in less down time," she said.
Dr Schleimer said minimally invasive methods could also be used for high risk patients, like those with diabetes, where the large cuts from traditional methods would be too risky for infection.
"Minimally invasive surgery is generally a well tolerated procedure for patients - not just for those undergoing bunion surgery, but for other foot and ankle corrections as well," she said.
"Keyhole techniques are continuing to evolve and are proving beneficial for a myriad of foot and ankle procedures, including fusions of the great toe, corrective osteotomies as well as osteectomies."
Dr Schleimer said it was important to remember not all conditions required surgery and she was happy to be referred patients to discuss non-operative measures.
"Hallux valgus and hallux rigidus are some of the most common forefoot deformities and one that we have several non-surgical measures which may reduce pain, including bracing and shoe modifications," she said.
"GPs should look at referring to a specialist when the patient has issues with the fit of their shoe, skin problems or pain with mobilisation.
"Only after all non-operative measures are exhausted, and if the patient's condition is affecting their quality of life, would we consider surgery.
"For patients who require surgical intervention, they can expect immediate mobilisation in a post-operative shoe, which is worn for an average of six weeks.
"When satisfactory bony union is achieved around the six week mark, patients can wean back into normal shoe wear and activities including running."
For more information contact
Dr Sonja Schleimer
The Gold Coast Centre for Bone and Joint Surgery
14 Sixth Palm Beach Ave
Palm Beach, QLD 4221
T: (07) 55980094