Behind the Blade and Beyond the Fray – Osseointegration Part Two
Going behind the blade and beyond the fray with Dr Ronald Hillock, the champion of Osseointegration, is always an eye-opener. Since the last time we spoke, there have been a few new developments regarding the procedure of Osseointegration (OI) and its status as a novel solution for amputees. Previously, the procedure (which eliminates the need for suction socket prosthesis, as well as the discomfort caused by their usage) was not available to all amputees. A new form of OI is now available for patients with peripheral vascular disease or diabetes mellitus. Presently, Dr. Hillock is diligently working on a solution that will make new treatments available to those who do not qualify for the original transcutaneous Osseointegration surgery.
Another effort being made in the furtherance of Osseointegration and the improvement of the quality of life for patients is the study of how phantom limb sensation and phantom limb pain affects amputees. It has been discovered that, in some cases, amputees deal with phantom limb pain for the rest of their lives. Not on Dr. Hillock’s watch! The doctor has seen promising results in this regard through Osseointegration, as well. The coupling of prosthesis with an osseointegrated connection anchored into the bone (the femur or tibia) is a solution that minimizes, and even has the potential to eliminate, phantom limb sensation for patients.
“Osseoperception” is the return of some sensation to the limb or limbs, allowing for the patient to feel the texture of things like grass or gravel. The restoration of this ability (Tactile Feedback) is extremely vital to the quality of life of patients. The benefits include the return of some motor functions and better balance.
There is also a new treatment for those who have diabetes and had amputations as a result of their condition. This option (not Osseointegration) is also available to those with Peripheral Vascular Disease, which is a condition that is mostly due to problems from tobacco use, causing restricted blood flow, thus not delivering enough oxygen to vital parts of the body.
The next innovation in the care and treatment of amputees is a procedure called Targeted Reinnervation. Wherever there is a damaged nerve, the scarring is removed, and the nerve is placed inside a muscle not previously related to itself. This repairs and utilizes the nerve in a way that improves the patient’s overall mobility.
Making Osseointegration available to the general public is not as simple as one may believe. However, Dr. Ronald Hillock and his team are gearing up to do just that. They’re in the final phase of clearance for FDA certification. They must first undergo the Investigational Device Evaluation, part of the FDA certification process.
This groundbreaking surgery and technology can finally be made available to all surgeons, as well as generally available to the public. Once they’ve completed the final phase of the FDA authorization process, an Investigational Device Evaluation or IDE, they will no longer be limited in the number of surgeries they can perform.
Dr. Hillock has vast experience and has worked with everyone from wounded soldiers to athletes in the Paralympics. His work will continue to be a beacon, directing the surge of innovation in surgery and staying above and beyond the fray of the medical profession.