VHM-2014-2015-lores - page 27

a removable boot so they can start
walking on it and moving the ankle.
Since it was such a great snow year,
Brian was determined to get back
on the slopes one more time before
the end of the season. Three months
after his surgery, his 5-year-old niece
came out. Brian skied the bunny slope
with her. “My surgery made it pos-
sible for me to ski with my niece for
her very first time, which was cool.”
Today, Brian is 100 percent. And
when he’s on skis or doing any-
thing athletic, he says he can’t tell
which Achilles was ruptured.
a better way
rotator cuffs
“The shoulder business is more
elective surgery here in ski coun-
try,” remarks Dr. Erik Dorf, an up-
per extremity specialist with Vail-
Summit Orthopaedics. “In the fall
and the spring, I typically see two
to three rotator cuff tears per week.
In the winter, less people want to
have shoulder surgery so they often
wait until the end of the season to
have these injuries evaluated.”
The rotator cuff is a group of four
muscles and their tendons that
stabilize and rotate the shoulder.
Eighty percent of the rotator cuff
tears Dr. Dorf sees are degenera-
tive. His typical rotator cuff in-
jury patient is middle aged or older
and leads a very active lifestyle.
Dr. Dorf explains that as you get
older, the blood supply to these
tendons decreases, leaving them more
susceptible to degenerative tear-
ing. Rotator cuff tears come in many
varieties. “Most often, a rotator cuff
tear begins slowly and will continue
to tear further with continual use.
Sometimes patients come to see me
right away with a partial tear; other
times they wait and don’t see me
until they have a complete tear.”
In the past, surgeons have repaired a
partially torn rotator cuff by operat-
ing from above the cuff and actually
completing the tear during surgery
and then repairing it as though it was
a complete tear. Because the sur-
gery was for the most part the same
whether you had a partial or full thick-
ness tear, deciding whether or not to
operate on a partial tear was difficult.
“When you have a complete tear in an
active person, the decision to go ahead
with surgery is fairly simple,” says Dr.
Dorf. “But with partial tears, the deci-
sion process is more complicated. Do
you give it time and let it come all the
way to failure? Or do you choose to
be aggressive and fix it right away?”
But now a new surgical technique
being utilized by some surgeons, in-
cluding Dr. Dorf, is starting to change
that. “I have started using what’s called
a ‘trans cuff ’ technique,” says Dr. Dorf.
“Instead of operating on the rotator
cuff from above and completing the
tear, I can now look at the part of the
cuff that is torn from underneath,
put anchors in it from that under-
neath location, and repair just the
tear itself. The technique allows the
fibers that are still there to remain
attached. We are now repairing just
the part of the cuff that was torn.”
Dr. Dorf says the new technique
is making the decision to have
surgery that much easier for ac-
tive people suffering from a partial
tear. “What it means for patients is
a shorter recovery time, an equally
good outcome, and an earlier return
to sports and activities.” He adds that
it also expedites physical therapy.
“We can get them into therapy that
much sooner and be that more aggres-
sive with their rehab program,” he says.
“The real advantage is that patients
can be more aggressive with their deci-
sion to have surgery and stop the pro-
gression of the tear so that we’re not
dealing with a full thickness tear down
the road. It’s a nice middle ground.”
the doctors of vail
summit orthopaedics
The doctors at Vail-Summit Ortho-
paedics believe that every patient
deserves the best possible outcome.
That’s why they’ve obtained the
highest possible training for their
specialty, going over and beyond what
is required of a general orthopaedist.
The staff also goes the extra mile to
make sure patients spend more time
with doctors, and less time waiting
for them. This allows physicians to
customize a treatment plan that fits
the way patients want to live, work
and play. VSO believes the best medi-
cine is practiced at that place where
doctor and patient connect with
each other in a meaningful way.
Dr. Paul Abbott
Sports Medicine
Dr. Rick Cunningham
ACL, Knee &
Shoulder, Partial & Total
Knee Replacement
Dr. Erik Dorf
Hand & Upper
Extremity, Sports Medicine
Dr. John Paul Elton
Foot & Ankle
Dr. Peter Janes
Hand, Wrist & Knee
Dr. Terrell Joseph
Hand & Upper
Extremity, Knee Surgery
Dr. Scott Raub
Spine Care,
Electrodiagnostic Testing
Dr. William Sterett
Knee &
Shoulder, Joint Preservation
Your best outcome is ensured by
a fully-integrated team approach
at Vail-Summit Orthopaedics.
Each physician works closely with
a licensed Physician Assistant
(PA) to provide patients with a
seamless continuity of care. The
relationship between a physician
and PA is built on trust and
mutual respect and helps create
a culture of patient service that
Vail-Summit Orthopaedics is
known for. In addition to their
sub-specialties, each physician also
specializes in orthopaedic trauma.
The new technique is making the decision
to have surgery that much easier for active
people suffering from a partial tear
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