First step for prosthetics
Pioneering procedure for above-knee amputees
A NEW procedure that can drastically improve the lives of leg amputees was recently performed for the first time in South Africa.
The procedure involves a revolutionary new type of prosthesis that does away with traditional suction sockets by directly attaching an amputee’s prosthetic limb to their skeleton.
Professor Nando Ferreira from Stellenbosch University’s Division of Orthopaedics, who was the lead surgeon, collaborated with the Institute for Orthopaedics and Rheumatology at Mediclinic Winelands, prosthetist Eugene Rossouw, and associate professor Munjed al Muderis of the Osseointegration Group of Australia, to perform South Africa’s first osseointegration prosthesis implant on November 5.
The recipient was a 28-year-old woman who suffered a traumatic above-knee amputation in 2009. Since then, she has struggled with her socket prosthesis, which interferes with her occupation and daily life.
The patient has progressed well, and her first prosthesis fitment was done two weeks after the surgery.
She has begun a 12-weeks rehabilitation protocol that involves progressive weight bearing while using two crutches for six weeks, followed by another six weeks using one crutch.
The procedure was originally developed in Australia by Al Muderis, the Australian surgeon who pioneered osseointegration and developed the Osseointegration Group of Australia Osseointegration Prosthetic Limb (OGAP-OPL) prosthesis, the surgical technique, and the rehabilitation protocol over the last decade.
About 750 surgeries have been performed, mostly in Australia.
“The OGAP-OPL is a revolutionary prosthesis that does away with traditional suction sockets by attaching an amputee’s prosthetic limb to the skeleton. This affords amputees unique advantages and can drastically transform their quality of life,” Ferreira said.
Amputees frequently suffer problems with traditional suction sockets, including skin irritation, poor fit due to sweating and volume changes of the stump throughout the day, discomfort while sitting, and the time it takes to attach and remove a prosthesis.
These socket-related problems are eliminated with an osseointegration prosthesis.
Recipients also have a better perception of the body’s position and movement and can feel the surface they are walking on, allowing them to walk with more confidence.
The osseointegration prosthesis restores the normal anatomical alignment of the thigh bone, which significantly reduces common gait deviations in above-knee amputees.
However, the procedure is not without complications, most significantly infection around the implant and fractures of the remaining bone.
“Candidates are carefully screened for suitability and currently only individuals suffering severe socket problems that significantly interfere with work and daily life are considered for this procedure,” Ferreira said.
“The unique design, materials and manufacturing process of the OGAPOPL allows bone to grow into the surface of the implant.”
STELLENBOSCH University professor Eugene Rossouw and associate professor Munjed al Muderis of the Osseointegration Group of Australia, performed South Africa’s first osseointegration prosthesis implant.