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Back on her feet

A series of chance injuries, including a ski-lift mishap, left 58-year-old Jana Brucker, a Gurnee resident and learning specialist, needing extensive ankle and foot surgery. Failing ligaments and tendons, ankle joints that were rolling outward, foot arthritis: Jana had it all. Ankle and foot surgeries are complicated procedures. The surgery Jana needed on her left ankle and foot would normally require an incision running the length of the foot, a two- to three-day hospital stay and a recovery time much longer than most orthopedic procedures, says Anand Vora, MD, an orthopedic surgeon specializing in ankle and foot surgery with Illinois Bone & Joint Institute.

A less-invasive option

Instead, Dr. Vora treated Jana as an outpatient at Advocate Condell Medical Center using a minimally invasive procedure. “The goal of ankle joint surgery is to preserve motion, and in Jana’s case, keep arthritis from worsening,” he says. “Jana’s ankle joints are tilted and much like a car out of alignment will create uneven wear on its tires, having ankles that aren’t aligned means abnormal wear on bone that results in arthritis. Through a 4- to 6-inch ankle incision and four small puncture holes, Dr. Vora realigned the joints in Jana’s foot and ankle using arthroscopic surgical techniques, which enable the surgeon to see the joints via a mini television camera. During the procedure, the heel bone was intentionally broken and slid over so the ankle could be brought back into the socket. Permanent screws were inserted to hold all the bones in place. Special pain blocks kept pain at bay for 24 hours following the surgery.

A steady recovery

A little more than a year after her surgery, Jana is well on the road to recovery. She started driving again three months after the procedure and was able to walk barefoot on hard surfaces at around five months. Looking back on her outpatient experience at Condell Medical Center, Jana praises the staff for their friendliness and competency. She was especially pleased she didn’t have to wait a long time before her surgery; the entire process was so well organized. “I did everything I was told,” Jana says of her recovery period. She wore her cast and walking boot and is careful about the shoes she wears. “No heels,” she says. “Each day it gets a little better.”


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