The Cutting Edge: Instrument of Amputation Turned into State of the Art Limb Saving Device

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In a first of its kind procedure for the Southwest,  UMC surgeons used pinhole techniques and modified instrumentation originally designed for opening skulls and performing amputations to save the limb of an Arizona woman. 

Ms. Olmedo, an Arizonan who suffers from a diabetes and a condition known as Charcot foot syndrome, developed a tremendous deformity in her foot nearly two years ago that caused a massive wound which was slated for amputation. After her visit to the University of Arizona's Southern Arizona Limb Salvage Alliance (SALSA), all that changed. 

David G. Armstrong, Professor of Surgery and Director of SALSA, the doctor who performed the surgery, noted “Prior to this technique, the alternative would have been either a high level amputation or large wounds, bone grafting, and up to a year of rehabilitation. Now she can literally walk out of the hospital with incisions not much larger than a punch biopsy.” The technique married two types of technologies– a state-of-the art external fixation device designed to transfer weight onto an external frame (allowing for walking) and a 100 year old bone cutting device most commonly used to remove limbs. Armstrong went on to say “It's kind of benevolently subversive to modify an instrument of amputation to be an instrument of limb salvage. ” The technique, first described in Baltimore by Dr. Bradley Lamm, is being adopted and modified by SALSA surgeons. 

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