New lapiplasty procedure treats the root cause of bunion deformity

Podiatrist Dale Brink, DPM, recently achieved a first at Ingalls and in the entire South Suburbs when he successfully performed a revolutionary new type of bunion surgery called Lapiplasty® in early March.

The new three-dimensional procedure transforms the treatment of painful bunions by correcting the root cause of the problem – a misaligned metatarsal bone – while dramatically shortening the time patients have to wait to bear weight on the affected foot.

“Contrary to popular belief, bunions are often complex deformities that stem from joint issues deep in the foot,” he explains. “The root cause of a bunion is an unstable joint at the base or foundation of the metatarsal bone.”

In a normal foot, the metatarsal bone is aligned with the other bones, and a stable joint at its base keeps it that way. With an unbalanced foundation (e.g., The Leaning Tower of Pisa) however, the bone leans out of alignment and creates the trademark bunion deformity – a bump on the side of the foot at the base of the big toe.

Most bunion treatments only address the top part of the metatarsal and ignore the real problem: the unstable joint.

“A common misconception is that a bunion is simply an overgrowth of bone that can be ‘shaved’ off,” he explains. “In reality, bunions are three-dimensional problems. They occur when an unstable joint allows the metatarsal bone to drift out of alignment, causing it to lean and rotate inward.”

During an osteotomy or traditional bunion surgery, the surgeon cuts and shifts the top part of the bone over, treating the bunion symptoms or bump. But with the unstable joint still at its foundation, the root cause of the bunion deformity isn’t addressed and, as a result, is prone to return.

Foot and ankle experts estimate that for 87% of people with bunions, traditional bunion surgery fails to get to the true source of the problem. “Osteotomy is a two-dimensional solution for a three-dimensional problem,” he said.

The Lapiplasty® procedure, however, addresses the problem three-dimensionally.

“Using advanced instrumentation, the entire metatarsal bone is corrected in all three dimensions, restoring it to its proper alignment while naturally removing the bump and straightening the toe,” he added. “The unstable joint is then fused with titanium plates, which permanently secures the correction in place.”

Since the procedure uses advanced fixation technology, many patients are able to bear weight on their foot within days after surgery vs. up to six weeks with traditional bunionectomy. For the first few days, the foot is wrapped in bandages, followed by a surgical boot for walking.

Best of all, Lapiplasty® doesn’t limit footwear choices or physical activity. Most patients can return to sports in about four months, once the bones have completely healed.

For more information, call Ingalls Care Connection at 708.915.CARE (2273).