Wales’s first minimally invasive forefoot surgery

Wales’s first minimally invasive surgery (MIS) of the foot has taken place recently, with the innovative surgery carried out by Vale Healthcare Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon, Mr Rhys Thomas.

This first minimally invasive surgery of the foot was carried out at Llandough Hospital, although at present, this treatment is not available on the NHS.  A further two cases of this surgery were carried out by Mr Thomas in January 2010, at Vale Healthcare’s Cardiff Bay Clinic.

MIS – also known as ‘keyhole’ surgery - of the foot is continuing to evolve, providing a number of benefits to patients.  It is mainly used to treat bunions [hallux valgus] and arthritis of the big toe, yet on some occasions it can also be used for deformities of the smaller toes. 

The minimally invasive methods allow surgeons to perform bony surgery in a closed manner, with the surgery monitored using x-rays.  The clear benefit to the patient is avoiding a large scar or damage to soft tissue.  In turn, this also reduces the risk of wound infection.

Whereas traditional ‘open’ surgery has involved patients often being admitted overnight for foot elevation, minimally invasive surgery is usually performed as day surgery.  This reduces the time needed in hospital, providing another benefit to patients.

Less disruption to the blood supply of the bone by minimally invasive surgery also promotes early bone healing.  As the bone heals quicker, a shorter rehabilitation is needed, and most patients can find themselves getting on with normal activities in around six to eight weeks.

Mr Thomas says, “The great thing about this surgery is that it uses all the surgical principles applied to traditional open surgery.  The only difference is that it is performed through small incisions, which reduce scarring and the risk of infections, and promote healing.”

Anyone with foot problems can be considered for this kind of surgery.  Consultants at Vale Healthcare’s Foot and Ankle Clinic offer effective and accurate diagnosis of foot and ankle problems, and provide all aspects of foot and ankle surgery, from conservative treatments such as provision of orthotics, to ankle replacement surgery.

Lis Neil, Chief Executive of Vale Healthcare, says, “Rhys is an expert in the field of adult foot and ankle surgery, and we will continue to support him, and all of our consultants, in developing innovative surgery for the benefit of their patients.  The opening of our new hospital in June this year demonstrates the way we are taking health provision in Wales forward and are committed to providing the best in healthcare to our patients.”  

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