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    Old 05-29-2009, 11:18 PM   #1
    Maunderer's Avatar
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    Bunion Surgery vs Decompression Osteotomy

    I think I may have made a big mistake. I may have allowed my podiatrist do simple bunion surgery on my feet when I should have had Decompression Osteotomy surgery. I would like to hear what people here have to say. Here's the story:

    My two Big toes have been hurting for several years. It has gotten to be nearly constant. The pain increased as I spent more time on my feet and especially if I did a lot of walking on rough terrain, or up and down stairs. So I saw a Podiatrist and he recommended Decompression Osteotomies on both Big Toes to "increase the motion of the joint and alleviate the pain". I agreed and we scheduled my left foot surgery for the following Monday morning.

    BUT, when Monday morning arrived, and I was in Pre-Op with the IV in my arm I was informed by the Nurse that I was having a "bunionectomy" according to the chart. I said, "No, it's wrong, it's suppose to be a "Decompression Osteotomy" to the Nurse. When the Doctor came in I told him there was a mistake and he said that he "had been to a seminar on exactly your problem over the weekend and decided that you don't need the Osteotomy." A Bunionectomy was what I needed. And he said the healing time would be greatly reduced. Trusting his expertise, and being there on the table in my hospital gown, I went along with it. I'm not a doctor or toe surgery expert after all.

    Now, its 5 weeks later and I'm having my doubts that the bunionectomies did me ANY good at all. I still have the EXACT same pain when I flex my big toes up or down to it's limit. I met someone at my kid's preschool that had the Decompression Osteotomy 3 months ago and she said she had practically no pain within a week and NONE now. She showed me her toes and that they were able to flex upwards 90 degrees or more.

    My own toe gained zero flexibility. The Doctor said that "according to the seminar you don't need more flexibility to alleviate pain. Many people have their toes fused straight and don't suffer any pain. So it's not the lack of flexibility that is causing the pain." Which is contrary to my original understanding of what caused my pain and my understanding of why surgery was necessary.

    My toe does not hurt when it's straight, even if I hold it down and strain as hard as I can to flex it up or down. It only hurts when it reaches it's limit, which is about 15 degrees or so. When I walk and push-off it hurts as it has for years. I'm suppose to return to work, where I'll be on my feet all day, and I fear that I'll have to go right back to taking 3000mg of ibuprofin a day to make it through.

    So that's where I'm at right now.

    My question HERE is, has anyone had STIFF JOINT PAIN in their big toes that was alleviated by bunionectomy surgery alone?

    And, from your experience, the pain I am now having, exactly the same as before the surgery, will it go away in time as the foot heals from the procedure? Right now I can't understand HOW or WHY it would.

    Or am I worrying about nothing? Do I just need to be more patient and let it fully heal?

    I don't understand how cutting off bunions can be substituted for completely seperating a joint in decompression osteotomy surgery. When he said he decided to change the planned procedure (because of a single seminar) at the last minute on me I just wasn't "brave" enough to say "hold it!" and ask a bunch of smart, well informed questions. I was already on the table, IV in arm, surrounded by medical personnel, minutes from anesthesia. I went along like a sheep, hoping for the best.

    It just seems like there has to be some kind of law or rule against a doctor doing that. If we would have had a WRITTEN contract he woudln't have been able to change the details of the procedure so easily. But I feel like we did have what amounts to a verbal contract. And then, under pressure, when I was nervous about what is going to happen in a few minutes, put mentally prepared to go through with it, the agreement was changed, switched on me.

    Right now I am wondering if I would have some legal rights here to make him do the originally planned procedure without charging me the full monty price again? That's if my fears turn out to be correct. I worry that I'll be laid off, lose my insurance and not even be able to get it done again, the decompression osteotomies. I will have gone through two surgical procedures, months of recovery, spent a lot of my own money, missed a lot of work, and gained no improvement because the doctor didn't perforn the right procedure on me.

    As you can tell, I'm pretty distraught. I'm sad. I'm hoping that time will prove my fears unjustified. But in the meantime, if anyone here can give me some feedback from their own experience I'd appreciate it.

    Last edited by Maunderer; 05-29-2009 at 11:58 PM.

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    Old 05-30-2009, 03:11 AM   #2
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    Re: Bunion Surgery vs Decompression Osteotomy

    I don't believe the doctor should have performed a different type of surgery
    than you had agreed to. You were at your most vulnerable, in a johnnie on a gurney. I would seek the advice of another doctor. I have had a double bunionectomy on the right foot with osteotomies (first and fifth metatarsal) and temporary pins a year ago. Bunionectomies often include osteotomies. Did your pod cut the bone or simply shave it? I am unsure what type of bunionectomy you had. You need to to sort this out with an expert. Start with you pcp, explain the situation, and get a referral to another doctor.
    I'm sorry you had this negative experience. Good luck.

    Old 05-31-2009, 06:36 PM   #3
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    Re: Bunion Surgery vs Decompression Osteotomy

    Thanks for the reply. The doctor did just shave off bone. Nothing else. I saw the before/after x-rays and the doctor confirmed this. I think that I WILL contact another doctor. I get my stitches out tomorrow morning. I am the type of person that HATES to make a fuss (I NEVER send food back at restaraunts!) and I fear that I'll be perceived or labelled a complainer like Elaine on Seinfeld!

    Man! I just don't know enough to KNOW what I can do next. I also just found out that my wife is getting laid off in October, so we could soon lose our insurance coverage. If I truly need another surgery I wonder HOW SOON it could be done...

    I'm really not a worry wort, but this situtation has me concerned. I NEED my feet fixed so that I can continue to work. The thought that I may have gone through this for NOTHING... it's beyond words. Thanks again for the reply. Anyone else?

    Old 05-31-2009, 07:23 PM   #4
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    Re: Bunion Surgery vs Decompression Osteotomy

    Hello Maunderer, I am sorry to hear about your situation. I have to tell my stupid doctor did the same thing to me but with a heel osteotomy.

    I have now had three surgeries. My original surgery was due to a damn bunion, supposse to be a simple procedure. That doctor did it wrong.

    I then went on to seek another opinion and found an ortho who specializes in foot and ankle surgeries. I described my pain and she told me all she was going to do to fix it. I agreed.

    Well on the day of my surgery I was laying there ready to go, IV in, talked to everyone I need to talk to, consent signed and all. She came in and said I think I am going to do a heel slide on you, I think it will help.

    Me being totally scared, nervous, and stupid. I said if you think it is best. My mom was sitting right there with me.

    She hand wrote it on my consent and I had to resign. I only wish I was smart enough to say wait a minute I don't know what that is.

    But we trust out doctors, I will say I will never fully trust one again. Because of her I now am going through my third surgery to fix my heel. It was in exact correct place to begin with, my new doctor has just fixed it. But now i am experiencing terrible heel pain, and it looks like ****. I never had heel pain before her messing with.

    So I am sorry I know how you feel, I only wish I could sue her for something. She has ruined my life completely. I am only 28 years old and I can not walk now.

    I wish you luck, and please find a new doctor and get lots of opinions.

    Good luck

    Old 06-01-2009, 08:22 PM   #5
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    Re: Bunion Surgery vs Decompression Osteotomy

    I'm not going to add much encouragement either. I had a double bunionectomy Jan 08. I have more pain in my big toes and balls of feet than I did before I ever had any surgery and more than I did during the 6 months or so of recovery. I do not know if I needed a different procedure or not, I trusted my Pod to fix it, period. I am debating as to whether to go back to him to discuss this or to get a second opinion. My big toes also are now turned inward somewhat which I think creates an unnatural movement in the joint.

    Like you, I also hate to make a fuss. I like my Pod, I don't want him to have made a mistake. I have no insurance at all and no way can afford to do this again.

    Old 06-02-2009, 06:51 PM   #6
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    Re: Bunion Surgery vs Decompression Osteotomy

    I am sorry for your predicament. I'm confused on exactly what your problem was and what he did. At its simplest, aa bunion is a malformation of the toe so that it turns in and the joint is at a "v" on the outside of the foot...the bones being at a sort of angle rather than straight from the foot thru the toe. While some of that can be shaved off, severe ones have to be cut and realigned ( a true bunionectomy) as there is not enough bone left if one shaved it all off (an osteotomy).

    So what exactly was the problem? I did not have bunions but had hallux limitus which included bumps on the TOP of the toe from the bones rubbing together (due to arthritis not a malformation). Along with the cheilectomy to clean out the spurs and chips, I had an osteotomy to shave off the bumps and let the joint move properly up and down.

    As for changing the procedure on you like he did, I would not have agreed to it - IV or no IV - and I would NEVER go back to see him. Anyone that would perform a procedure that he had learned just the weekend before is not operating on me....and he should be sanctioned in whatever way your state medical board does that.

    Old 07-13-2009, 10:30 AM   #7
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    Re: Bunion Surgery vs Decompression Osteotomy

    I had the double double decompression osteotomy done two weeks ago on my right great toe. I was diagnosed with mid to late stage Limitus. My foot hasn't felt this good in a long time. I already have more motion now than I did the day before surgery and it's getting better daily. I was non-weight bearing the first two weeks and got my stitches out today and the doc said to start putting some weight on it. It feels great and I have 0 pain walking less than 10 feet or so. The first week wasn't very fun but now it feels good. My doc said by me having the surgery sooner than later was the best thing I could do: the cartlidge was still on good shape, minimal spurring had occured and the joint was in good overall shape considering. Everyone's condition is different but I am personallly a big advocate for getting things taken care of as soon as possible. Seems to be working for me.

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