Medical Director at Silver Cross Hospital Back to Work Four Days After Foot Surgery
Dr. Anne McCall is always on her feet. As the medical director for radiation oncology at the University of Chicago Medicine Comprehensive Cancer Center at Silver Cross Hospital, it’s no surprise she walks all day. She dealt with foot pain for a long time, and went to a podiatrist a few years ago who told her she needed bunion surgery. But the recovery time was too long, so she decided to skip surgery. Over time, however, the discomfort and numbness made it difficult for her to wear shoes. Eventually, she decided to seek treatment at Silver Cross.
“I spoke with Dr. Paul Kirchner here at Silver Cross, and I learned he had performed thousands of foot surgeries. He told me I could be back to work in a few of days,” said Dr. McCall. Dr. Kirchner, who serves as the chairman of the podiatry section at Silver Cross, told her about a new implant used for foot surgery that can reduce patient recovery time.
The new implant, called the Cartiva Synthetic Cartilage Implant, received FDA approval about a year ago. The small implant looks like Jujube candies and is made from the same material as contact lenses. When packaged in saline it feels like a pencil eraser, said Dr. Kirchner.
“It’s been very helpful for patients with mild to moderate degenerative arthritic joints. What makes this implant so great is that there is less surgical dissection, and therefore, helps decrease the recovery time,” said Dr. Kirchner. “I get my patients walking immediately after surgery. There used to be an extensive healing process with foot surgery, but that’s not the case anymore. Compared to what we used to do for this procedure, this implant has been wonderful.” Dr. Kirchner noted he was the first surgeon to use the new implant in Illinois after the FDA approved it about a year ago.
Recovery from a normal bunionectomy can take as much as six weeks or even a few months, however, using the Cartiva implant, Dr. Kirchner said recovery can be as little as two weeks. Dr. McCall said she had the procedure on a Friday and was back to work on the following Tuesday.
In fact, she said she only spent one day at home while recovering. By Sunday, she walked to a coffee shop by her home and met a friend for coffee. “When I was recovering at home, I had nothing to do, so I looked up recovery times, and people were telling stories about how they couldn’t walk for weeks, but I didn’t experience any of that. I didn’t even take the pain meds they gave me after surgery; just ibuprofen,” she said. “I wore a boot for 10 days. It wasn’t problematic just a little awkward at first. Today I’m wearing a normal shoe.”
Dr. McCall said she’s had to be treated as a patient at Silver Cross several times. “It’s always been an excellent experience,” she said. “The whole Silver Cross experience was wonderful, which is especially nice because I work here. It’s great to have that kind of care at the place you work. So you can tell your patients, ‘I choose to come here, too.’”
Not all foot pain requires surgery, however. The most common type of foot pain is related to plantar fasciitis. The Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago at Silver Cross Hospital is conducting a free Foot Pain Screen on Thursday, May 18 from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Silver Cross Professional Building at 250 E. Maple Street in New Lenox. A physical therapist will screen for plantar fasciitis, which is the most common cause of heel pain. To schedule a screening, call (815) 300-6123.