Medical Breakthrough: Saving Legs

Wednesday, August 18th 1999, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

A new prosthetic device has produced life-changing results for people with
tumors in their legs. Six months ago, Mallory Hall didn't know if she would ever walk again. She had cancer in her leg bone. "I was limping. I fractured my leg, and I had crutches, and I was in a wheelchair. It was awful," said Hall.

In the past, treatment was extreme. James Johnston, M.D., an orthopedic oncologist from the University of California at San Francisco Stanford Health Care, says, "Before we had any type of prosthetic implant, the basic treatment was amputation."

Instead, doctors removed the damaged bone and inserted a new type of implant. Developed by Dr. Johnston, the so-called compliant pre-stress system is more effective than conventional implants that come loose in at least half of the cases.

X-rays show the new device actually helps the bone to grow into the implant and heal. "Bone is likewise a living tissue, and if you don't place stress or exercise on the bone, it will also disappear, just like a muscle does," explains Dr. Johnston. Doctors expect Hall to recover completely, something Stacey Rae knows about. She got the new implant more than two years ago. "My attitude has totally changed. It's given me a lot of self-confidence because I'm not limping around. I can just blend in with everybody else," says Rae.

The compliant pre-stress system has gone through a clinical trial for the past six years. The developers recently applied for FDA approval and hope to make it available for widespread use within the next year.

If you would like more information, please contact:
Lordelyn Delrosario
UCSF Public Affairs
3333 California Street, Suite 103
San Francisco, CA 94143-0462
(415) 476-2557