First Ankle Replacement Surgery in Lake County
Anand Vora, MD performs total ankle replacement at Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital
John Wedge, a retired carpenter, cabinetmaker and former semi-pro football player from Lake Villa, spent most of his daily adult life on his feet. The years of joint strain added up, arthritis took hold, and John was forced to have hip replacement surgery eight years ago. This was followed two years later by the first of two knee replacements (his right knee) performed by Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital’s Roger Chams, MD, with the left knee following suit this past July.
All the surgeries went well, but the pressing need for the second knee replacement delayed what had been an increasingly painful problem for several years—his left ankle joint was completely worn out by arthritis, and he had been walking on it—bone to bone—ever since.
“I’m not sure how he stood the pain for so long,” said Lois, his wife of 58 years, a retired nurse who has cared for John through his many surgical recuperations. On September 30, 2008, John became the first patient to receive a total ankle replacement in Lake County. The successful surgery was performed at Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital by Anand Vora, MD, one of the region’s most respected board-certified orthopaedic surgeons specializing in disorders of the foot and ankle.
“My husband and I are elderly, and it was so refreshing to have a surgeon with such patience,” said Lois. “He took his time explaining things and answering all of our many questions. I think John’s fallen in love with him and, frankly, so have I.”
In 2006, Dr. Vora performed the first ankle replacement surgery in Illinois on Reverend Fred Krauss, a retired minister of the United Church of Christ. Reverend Krauss has served churches throughout Illinois, Ohio, Michigan and central Wisconsin. Performing church services became extremely painful in recent years as severe ostheoarthritis caused a complete loss of cartilage in his right ankle.
“I had visited various orthopaedists, received the occasional cortisone injection and was told I’d probably have to live with the pain,” said Krauss. “One orthopaedist in central Wisconsin told me about a total ankle replacement procedure that was considered experimental in the U.S. But then something providential occurred in my life. I retired in 2006 from full-time ministry and my wife and I moved to Rockford, Illinois. It was there that a local orthopaedist had heard of Dr. Vora’s work in the field and referred me to him. The rest, as they say, is history!”
Rev. Krauss received the new Salto Tolaris anatomical replacement by Dr. Vora while he was at Northwestern Memorial Hospital (prior to Dr. Vora joining the staff at Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital).
“I honestly never thought I’d be able to walk again without agonizing pain,” said Krauss. “Now look at me,” he says, kicking his right leg in the air like a Broadway dancer.
“It’s very exciting working with this new generation prosthetic design for arthritic ankle sufferers,” explains Dr. Vora. Dr. Vora lectures nationally on foot and ankle surgery, was recently selected as one of “America’s Top Foot and Ankle Orthopaedists” in the “Guide to America’s Top Orthopaedists,” and serves as the foot and ankle consultant for the Chicago Fire soccer team and the Joffrey Ballet.
“In the past, fusion was the surgery of choice, which typically limited the gate and led to a chronically stiff ankle,” adds Dr. Vora. “Then came early generation prosthetics which produced limited durability.
“With this new prosthetic design, which includes two metal liners and a plastic spacer (see photo), total ankle replacement with quicker recovery time and greater mobility is becoming a reality for many patients. Thanks to the talented physicians and staff I work with at Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital, we are able to utilize anesthetic techniques that greatly minimize pain and also provide unparalleled care during the recovery process.
“And the next generation design enhancements currently awaiting FDA approval will be even more amazing!”