A Corbin native is one of only a few surgeons in Kentucky performing a state-of-the-art ankle replacement procedure that has given one local man a “new lease on life.”
Dr. Collin Ball, a podiatric surgeon with KentuckyOne Health Orthopedic Associates, said that when Somerset resident Scott Quillen came to him in 2013 he was ready to have his right leg amputated from the knee down because pain in his ankle was so excruciating.
Quillen, a 55-year-old retired Air Force Master Sergeant, suffered a “compound dislocation” of his right ankle after a motorcycle accident in Maryland in March 2010. The gruesome injury was surgically repaired at the University of Maryland Hospital in Baltimore, but lingering pain from the injury just kept getting worse.
“He had bone on bone arthritis in his ankle. There was grinding and popping. It was a situation where he had to stay off that limb or deal with the pain,” Ball said.
But because of his physical stature and other factors, Ball said Quillen qualified as a good candidate for a proprietary procedure known as an “INBONE Total Ankle System” replacement. During the procedure, all the arthritic portions of the ankle are removed and replaced with a polyethylene component that serves as a tray that holds the top piece of the ankle with a titanium dome on top that allows free range of motion. A sort of post is implanted in one of the leg bones for support.
“This is probably one of the top of the line replacements … they keep refining it as generations go on,” Ball said of the procedure. “It’s a pretty neat deal. Recovery time is a lot quicker and it preserves range of motion. It allows a patient to continue to do most of their daily activities.”
Ball is a 1992 graduate of Corbin High School and completed undergraduate studies at the University of Kentucky, then went to Kent State University Medical School. He also completed a surgical residency at the University of Louisville at the Norton Hospital System before joining KentuckyOne Health Orthopedic Associates.
Ball said performing the INBONE procedure requires special certifications. He’s performed the surgery on 12 patients and has had few complications.
To Quillen, INBONE seemed almost like a miracle.
“It’s been a real blessing,” he said. “I’m back to doing almost everything I was doing before. I walk 5k’s on the treadmill three times a week. Prior to surgery, I was dreading getting out of bed.”
Typically, people with problems like Quillen have less appealing options.
The ankle can be immobilized with braces and special shoes, but that causes a loss of range of motion, and often causes pain in other joints that have to compensate. The ankle can be surgically fused, but again motion is lost preventing a more natural stride.
Quillen said he was seriously contemplating amputation because the pain was so bad. Pain medications did nothing to quell it.
“Dr. Ball couldn’t believe that the pain was so bad that I was literally considering lopping off my leg at the knee,” Quillen said. “It was horrible. I could not take a step without cringing.
Nothing helped. Not pain medications or cortisone shots. Nothing.”
The accident that caused all the pain is something that Quillen said would be etched in his memory forever. He recalls his foot bent all the way out of place, lying over on the outside of his leg. He said he had one of the EMT’s or paramedics take a photograph of it, but glad he was not shown the photo until after he got home from the hospital.
“I think if I would have seen it, I probably would have gone into shock.”
Ball said he’s proud that he has the certifications and ability to do the procedure where he grew up. His wife, Catherine, a local attorney, is also from Corbin. His parents, Tom and Sharon Ball, still reside in Corbin as well.
“There’s a need in this area for this, I think,” Dr. Ball said. “For a select group of patients that meet the criteria, it’s a great thing.”