|[February 27, 2013]
Leading Bay Area Orthopedic Surgeon Helps Alameda Girl Live a Normal Life
BERKELEY, Calif. --(Business Wire)--
After many years of careful care and planning by Packard Children's
orthopedic surgeon Scott
Hoffinger, MD, 10-year-old Mary Lisanti of Alameda, Calif., is now
able to take weight-bearing steps on her left leg.
Mary Lisanti of Alameda, Calif., with orthopedic surgeon-researcher Scott Hoffinger, MD, an expert in treating fibular hemimelia -- the birth deficiency that caused Mary's left leg to be three inches shorter than her right. (Photo: Business Wire)
On December 18, Hoffinger removed a cast from Mary's leg at his clinic
in Berkeley. This seminal, happy moment was the culmination of many
years of strategic treatment by the surgeon-researcher -- an expert in
hemimelia -- the birth deficiency that caused Mary's left leg to be
three inches shorter than her right.
Hoffinger started laying the groundwork for surgically lengthening
Mary's leg back in 2003. "Mary was only six months old when we started
seeing Dr. Hoffinger," said her dad, Mike Lisanti. "He immediately put
our family at ease and gave us trust that Mary could have a normal
childhood. He said everything wuld be fine, and he was right."
"The main thing we do for kids like Mary is prevent contracture or loss
of range of motion in the ankle of the shorter leg," Hoffinger
explained. "We plan this through prosthetics and ankle-foot orthotics,
thus allowing regular activities." True enough, according to dad. "There
were no impositions," Lisanti said. "Throughout childhood, Mary has been
able to dance, play basketball and more."
Hoffinger, who has successfully treated more than 50 leg-lengthening
cases in his career, said that for kids like Mary, there is a point
where prosthetics and orthotics cannot accommodate the entire
difference. So, in early 2012, the lengthening surgery began taking
shape. "Dr. Hoffinger cares about the whole patient," Lisanti said. "He
felt Mary's surgery would work better when she was older and could
understand what was going on. Additionally, a larger percentage of the
leg can be lengthened then."
After some initial nervousness, the good-natured 4th grader
was on board. "Well, I always wondered what it would be like if my legs
were more even," Mary said.
To make it happen, Hoffinger had to break Mary's tibia and fibula to
allow surgical attachment of a Taylor Spatial Frame (a type of Ilizarov
apparatus named after its Russian inventor) to Mary's leg. This
circular device connects through a superstructure of pins and wires to
allow a daily turning of struts that induce a gradual, millimeter-size
lengthening. "You can grow bone across the room," explained Hoffinger,
who monitored the ongoing lengthening for months in order to meet the
approximate goal of three inches, which was achieved in October. After
removal of the frame, Mary received the cast and then an early Christmas
gift when it was taken away in December.
"Now, she's crutch-free," said Lisanti, "and getting stronger and more
mobile every day." He and wife Jennifer are thrilled. "Mary's riding her
bike and starting some basketball shooting drills."
Hoffinger noted that successful cases like this are always a
collaborative effort. "Our team has exceptional experience with all
types of orthopedic problems, from trauma to fracture to sports injuries
and more," he said. "But it always helps when we are working with
someone as determined and committed as Mary and her family."
Looking back at Mary's journey, Lisanti saluted not just Hoffinger's
technical proficiency, but also his family-centered approach to Mary's
care. "Dr. Hoffinger is always very caring and concerned, and he creates
the best possible atmosphere for two-way communication," Lisanti said.
"From the beginning, he always made our entire family part of the
treatment process, and we think this played a major role in Mary's
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