This minimally invasive technique is designed to eliminate the painful bunion bump and return your toe to a normal position. During the procedure, Dr. McDonald makes series of three small incisions to correct the deformity. The incisions are just a few millimeters long compared to three- to five-inch incisions used in traditional open bunion surgery. Dr. McDonald performs the surgery under image guidance, which allows him to have “eyes inside” the foot. Because of its minimally invasive nature, recovery time is typically quicker than traditional bunion surgery.

Why Does Bunion Surgery Fail?

Bunions can be tricky to effectively treat because you can’t really shift the big toe joint back into its natural position with conservative treatments. If you want to reset the joint into a proper position, surgery is the right course of treatment, but even surgery doesn’t go perfectly every single time. Although it has a high rate of success, bunion surgery can fail to correct the problem for a few different reasons. In today’s blog, we explore some of the common reasons that bunion surgery fails, and we discuss how Dr. McDonald works to mitigate the risk of surgical failure.

Common Reasons Bunion Surgery Fails

Before we dive into the reasons why bunion surgery can fail, let it be known that even though these are some of the more “common” reasons that the procedure fails, it doesn’t mean that failure is a common result. Bunion correction is successful in roughly 90 percent or more of cases, so failure itself is not a common result. But when an operation or recovery doesn’t go as expected, here’s a look at why it tends to go awry:

  • Undercorrection – Surgeons work to reset the bunion along its normal alignment, but that’s not always easy, especially if the joint dysfunction is severe. If the joint isn’t fully reset, the bunion may recur as healing runs its course. Under corrections are typically the result of the wrong type of corrective procedure being performed, so it pays to move forward with a surgeon who understands the best technical way to correct varying degrees of bunion development.
  • Overcorrection – Another possible issue with bunion surgery is overcorrection. An overcorrection tends to be the result of a technical error during the procedure. It is less likely to occur than an under correction, but it typically presents with worse symptoms and greater patient dissatisfaction. Choosing a surgeon with extensive experience can reduce your risk of an overcorrection.
  • Nonunion – As the name implies, nonunion problems occur when the corrected bones do not fuse together.
  • Malunion – A malunion is similar in nature to a non-union, but in this instance some bone healing has taken place. The problem is that the bone fusion has not occurred as expected, creating a poor joining of the corrected bones.

Although issues with the surgery itself can lead to nonunion or malunion, it is more likely that these problems develop during the recovery stage of care. They are more likely to develop if the patient is noncompliant with their rehabilitation guidelines. Bearing weight too soon is a common theme in patients who have bone union issues, so make sure that you follow your doctor’s post-op care instructions. Underlying issues like osteopenia and osteoporosis can contribute to elevated malunion rates as well.

When it really comes down to it, if you’re hoping to reduce your risk of a failed bunion surgery you need to place your trust in an experienced foot specialist like Dr. McDonald. He has the technical skill to ensure everything goes as expected during your procedure, and his care doesn’t end once you’ve been discharged. He ensures that all his patients fully understand their recovery expectations so that they don’t do something during their rehabilitation that increases their likelihood of a post-op problem.

If you’d like help managing your bunion, or you have questions about a different foot or ankle issue, reach out to Dr. McDonald and his team today at (860) 244-8889.

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