'Tightrope' high ankle sprain procedure cutting recovery times drastically — 5 insights

Written by Eric Oliver | February 06, 2019 | Print  |

High ankle sprains used to sideline athletes for up to eight weeks if not longer, but the Arhtrex's Knotless Syndesmosis TightRope is revolutionizing recovery times, Sports Illustrated reports.

What you should know:

1. A surgeon threads a high-strength suture through small holes in a bone, fastening it with small metal buttons and tightening it in a fashion like a zip tie, SI reports.

2. Vail, Colo.-based Steadman Clinic and Steadman Philippon Research Institutes' Thomas Clanton, MD, was among the first to use the procedure in 2005. A foot and ankle specialist, Dr. Clanton is credited as a tightrope specialist.

3. The tightrope recently gained national prominence when Tuscaloosa-based University of Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa underwent the procedure during the 2018 NCAA football season and returned in under a month. Mr. Tagovailoa's procedure was performed by Birmingham-based Andrews Sports Medicine Center's Norman Waldrop, MD.

4. Dr. Waldrop is a University of Alabama football team physician. He began performing tightrope procedures in 2014, after learning from Dr. Clanton.

5. Tightrope procedures facilitate faster recoveries — In the case of Mr. Tagovailoa, he performed 15-single-legs hop by day 10, giving him clearance to practice — but they also tout long-term health benefits. In traditional surgeries, the ankle can be reinjured, but because the tightrope remains in an athlete's recovered ankle, it's highly unlikely an athlete will sprain their ankle in a similar manner again.

To read the entire piece, click here.

More articles on sports medicine:
26 orthopedic surgeons on the move in January
Top 5 highest paying specialties – Orthopedic surgeons bring in $414K annually
10 orthopedic surgeon leaders to know

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