In a first of its kind procedure for the Southwest, University of Arizona surgeons used pinhole techniques and modified instrumentation originally designed for opening skulls and performing amputations to save the limb of an Arizona woman. Gloria Olmedo, an Arizonan who suffers from diabetic Charcot foot syndrome, developed a tremendous deformity in her foot nearly two years ago that caused a massive wound. The foot 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, DPM, MD, PhD, professor of surgery and director of SALSA, said, "Prior to this technique, the alternatives would have been a high level amputation, 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.