Mercy's Dr. Lew Schon, Institute for Foot & Ankle Reconstruction, Discusses Zimmer Total Ankle Replacement

October 21, 2019


Five years ago, Tina Burd could not have ridden a bike without excruciating pain. Burd, a 60-year-old nurse and fitness instructor, had severe osteoarthritis in her left ankle.

"It was bone-on-bone starting in my early 30s," Burd said.

Burd said the pain level was always a 10-plus. Every decision was based on how her ankle felt that day.

"Anytime you put your foot down to walk, the bones were grinding together," Burd said.

She used devices in order to try to keep functioning, including boots and braces, and that's not all.

"I did steroid injections, I used acupuncture, I used reflexology, massage therapy and good old ice and rest," Burd said.

But nothing got rid of the pain. She looked into ankle replacement at the time but said the technology wasn't as good as it is now. She was told to wait until she was older. Five years ago, she finally had her left ankle replaced. Lew C. Schon, M.D., FACS, Director, Orthopedic Innovation, The Institute for Foot and Ankle Reconstruction at Mercy, was her surgeon.

"Our experience with the Zimmer ankle replacement has been that we can handle more complicated challenges with better results," Dr. Schon said.

Dr. Schon co-invented the Zimmer ankle replacement used in Burd's surgery. What's the difference between the new replacement models and the old ones?

"We've changed the shape, the size and the way the implant is put into the bone," Dr. Schon said. "Instead of going in from the front to put it in, we go in from the side, and by going through the side, we're able to correct pretty much (any) extreme deformities. We've also changed the materials."

That includes the type of plastic used on the part that gets the most wear and tear.

Burd is back to yoga, Pilates and spin classes at a level, she didn't think was possible.

"The main thing that changes your life -- is you can walk. I don't have to think about how far away I parked the car," Burd said. "If I want to go walk 5 miles, I can walk 5 miles. If I want to hike, take the dogs to the park, I can do that," Burd said.

There are some restrictions: no running or jumping on it. Still, she doesn't feel limited.

"If I had this option sooner in my life, I absolutely would have done it," Burd said

According to Dr. Schon, running and jumping are restricted because they can lead to the ankle wearing out faster. As far as recovery, patients are standing at about 10 days, and are up and walking, in a boot, at about six weeks.

To view foot and ankle specialist and orthopedic surgeon Dr. Lew Schon’s interview about the Zimmer Total Ankle Replacement, click here.


About Mercy

Founded in 1874 in Downtown Baltimore by the Sisters of Mercy, Mercy Medical Center is a 183-licensed bed, acute care, university-affiliated teaching hospital. Mercy has been recognized as a high-performing Maryland hospital (U.S. News & World Report); has achieved an overall 5-Star quality, safety, and patient experience rating (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services); is A-rated for Hospital Safety (Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade); and is certified by the American Nurses Credentialing Center as a Magnet™ hospital. Mercy Health Services is a not-for-profit health system and the parent company of Mercy Medical Center and Mercy Personal Physicians.

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