BALTIMORE (Ivanhoe Newswire/WTVM) -- A tiny bone that you've probably never heard of can make a huge difference in your quality of life. The talus is the part ankle that allows the foot to move in all different directions. High impact injuries like falls, or car crashes can cause the bone to fracture and die. Now, there is a new cutting-edge option for patients.
On August 11, 2014, Matt Bass drove home late from work and fell asleep behind the wheel.
For more than two weeks, Bass was in a coma. As his body began to heal, doctors discovered one of the worst injuries was to his ankle.
"They said I shattered it into 30-odd pieces," Bass details.
Mark Myerson, M.D., the Director for the Institute for Foot and Ankle Reconstruction at Mercy Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland said "People are living through accidents that previously were fatal, and their feet are getting crushed on the floorboard."
In Bass' case, doctors needed to remove his talus bone because it was dead and crumbling.
"You're left with a massive hole," Dr. Myerson says.
In the past, doctors would have fused the ankle, leaving Bass unable to move his foot. But now Dr. Myerson is using a first-of-a-kind procedure.
"It builds a whole new ankle," says Dr. Myerson.
Using a patient's normal ankle as a model, biomedical engineers construct a cobalt and chrome prosthesis, then reverse it so it will replace the missing talus.
Bass is back on his feet, and ready to start a new chapter in his life.
"Still have aches and pains when I'm on it a lot, but I'm able to stay on it, which before wasn't an option," explains Bass.
Dr. Myerson says, "This is a life-changing experience."
Dr. Myerson says the medical company, 4Web Medical, uses 3-D printing technology to get an exact fit. He has successfully used the talus replacement in eight patients over the past year.