LOUISVILLE ORTHOPAEDIC SURGEON DR. GEORGE QUILL DESIGNED MEDICAL TOOL NOW USED WORLD-WIDE REVOLUTIONIZING SURGICAL ANKLE TREATMENT
Louisville, KY — May 25, 2006 – Louisville Orthopaedic Clinic’s George E. Quill, Jr., M.D., one of the region’s first fellowship-trained orthopaedic surgeons sub-specializing in disorders of the foot and ankle, set out to fulfill an orthopaedic niche and succeeded in designing a medical tool now used world-wide to relieve pain and improve function in patients with severe deformity.
When pain treatments fail, patients who have worn away the cartilage between their ankle bones have limited options. While total knee replacements are quite common, total ankle replacements are not, primarily because they only last 5 – 7 years. Dr. Quill wanted to provide relief to patients who had run out of options. “This creation has been especially gratifying,” the doctor explains. “I worked with a manufacturer to design something I thought could fill a medical niche – helping people who are otherwise candidates for amputation – and now see the design used all over the world.”
Traditional arthrodesis (pronounced ar thro dee sis) dates back to 1882 and involves aligning the ankle and hindfoot joints in the most functional position and fusing them – relieving pain, but causing the patient to lose motion in the joint. Because of his extra training in the foot and ankle, polio and diabetic patients, and others making a last ditch effort to save their feet, were referred to Quill. With the use of the medullary nail, these patients have seen a dramatic change in their lives. In fact, according to Dr. Quill, less than half of patients limp after arthrodesis with the nail.
The medullary nail works like an internal splint, inserted through the bottom of the foot. Medullary actually means internal core of bone – where the nail is placed. The procedure boasts less post-operative pain, diminished cast time, improved accuracy, and titanium strength. Polio and diabetic patients aren’t the only ones benefiting: persons with osteoarthrosis, rheumatoid arthritis, severe trauma, and neuromuscular diseases are finding great relief as well.
Dr. Quill shares an interesting history of the medullary nail. During World War II, German fighter pilots were seen with very fresh leg wounds. Turns out, these pilots had been surgically treated with medullary nails and put right back into battle. “The method was reliable and quick then and that same technology can now save even a horrendous case from amputation,” he explained.
More than fifteen years ago, Dr. Quill began performing ankle arthrodesis with medullary nails intended for the femur. He inserted the femur nail backwards into the ankle until 1998 when his ankle-specific creation was complete. This fall, the second generation design – a refined version –- will be released.
Dr. Quill gives many scientific presentations each year on the subject of foot and ankle disorders, and is a member of the clinical faculty at the University of Louisville School of Medicine. Current interests are in foot and ankle reconstruction, orthopaedic device development, and orthobiologic research.
Born in Chicago, Illinois, Dr. Quill attended the University of Notre Dame, earned his medical degree at Northwestern University, and completed his residency at Chicago’s Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Medical Center. His fellowship was completed in Baltimore at Union Memorial Hospital. He is board certified and voluntarily re-certified in orthopaedic surgery.