Patient Stories

Kathy Sparrow Appreciates Arthrex Products Even More, After Suffering Serious Skiing Accident

As one of Arthrex’s first employees, Senior Vice President of Human Resources Kathy Sparrow has long appreciated the company’s commitment to creating the best products for minimally invasive orthopedic surgery. But maybe never more than when she ended up needing them herself after a serious skiing accident.

“I was never more thankful in my life,” Kathy said. “Before this injury, I had never broken a bone in my life. When I did it, I really did it.”

A life-long skier, Kathy was enjoying a long-anticipated girls' weekend at Copper Mountain in Colorado. The first day, the trails were great, and they had a perfect day. But overnight a wet, heavy snowfall left most of the runs ungroomed and treacherous.

“We were going to do a few more runs and call it a day,” Kathy said. “We started down and I could see other people struggling on the trail in the deep, heavy snow.”

After another skier fell in front of her, Kathy tried to maneuver around, but the heavy snowpack snagged one of her skis as the other one kept going, pitching her forward.

“My binding didn’t pop. I could feel my knee twisting and I tried to turn to protect it, because I knew I was in a bad position – I heard a crack as I fell forward,” Kathy said. “Immediately, I knew that sound was not good. Some other skiers stopped to ask if I needed help. I said, ‘Yes, please call the ski patrol.’”

She suffered a serious torsion fracture of her left ankle. After the ski patrol got her down the hill, they loaded her into the back of a box truck for a bumpy ride to the emergency room.

“I think I was in shock because I didn’t feel a great deal of pain yet. I was afraid to take my ski boot off, but it was easier than I expected,” Kathy said. “The first x-rays showed the fracture, but not the extent of the damage.”

In a splint and on crutches, Kathy flew back to Florida the next day and went to see foot and ankle surgeon and Arthrex faculty member Christopher W. Hodgkins, MD (Miami, Florida). He took additional images, including a 3D CT scan, which were sobering and revealed more extensive injuries.

“Kathy came to me with serious injuries that required a 360-degree repair of her ankle,” Dr. Hodgkins said. “She had a fibula fracture, posterior malleolus fracture (a break on the back side of her tibia), a syndesmosis injury, an AITFL (anterior inferior tibiofibular ligament) injury, bony avulsion and cartilage damage in the ankle.”

Dr. Hodgkins used the new Synergy Vision™ Imaging System, which combines both the Pano™ Scope and Nano Vision™ functionality in a single console. The ultrawide view Pano Scope was able to see and confirm the articular fracture. Using the NanoNeedle Scope, Dr. Hodgkins was able to maneuver into tight spaces to see and remove loose bodies from the fracture. Following the repair the NanoNeedle Scope was used to confirm complete and full reduction. 

He repaired her fibula fractures with a minimally invasive approach, addressing the syndesmotic injuries with two Syndesmosis TightRope® XP implants and the FibuLock® nail. He used Arthrex’s new Snap-Off Compression FT Pins in conjunction with the FibuLock nail for fragment fixation.

Dr. Hodgkins then used the InternalBrace™ technique for AITFL reconstruction to repair Kathy’s damaged ligament. He repaired the deltoid ligament with a DX Knotless FiberTak® anchor and used JumpStart® antimicrobial wound dressing to help the incisions heal.

“This is a 360-degree, all-inside, minimally invasive ankle fracture repair,” Dr. Hodgkins said. “It is rock solid. We gave her quadruple fixation on the syndesmosis and the FibuLock nail provides the strongest possible construct for the fibular fracture. We addressed every fracture and ligament injury and added biology to help her heal as quickly as possible.”

After an initial two weeks of staying completely off her ankle to facilitate wound healing, Dr. Hodgkins allowed Kathy to progress to weight-bearing early and then to start aggressive physical therapy to help her regain mobility.

“I am so lucky that Dr. Hodgkins is the surgeon he is, and I have never been more grateful for Arthrex and the access to people like [Physical Rehabilitation Manager] Brent Van Gemert, who has been a godsend,” Kathy said. “I never thought I would need any of our products in my own body. I am so appreciative of Reinhold’s support and the care I received.”

Today Dr. Hodgkins says she is healing very well, and that Kathy’s prognosis is excellent.

“She will be back to normal from the fracture and ligament injuries and if she’s up for it, I am confident she will be able to ski again,” he said.

But Kathy says for now, she’s focused on healing and while she will never say never, she thinks she will stick to the ski lodge going forward on family trips.

“I don’t want to go through this again, or put my family through it,” Kathy said. “I am just so grateful to be getting back to normal and I appreciate the simple things like just taking a walk even more now.”

Disclaimers:

The InternalBrace surgical technique is intended only to augment the primary repair/reconstruction by expanding the area of tissue approximation during the healing period and is not intended as a replacement for the native ligament. The InternalBrace technique is for use during soft tissue-to-bone fixation procedures and is not cleared for bone-to-bone fixation.

Postoperative management is patient-specific and dependent on the treating professional’s assessment. Individual results will vary and not all patients will experience the same postoperative activity level or outcomes.

This is not medical advice and is not meant to be a substitute for the advice provided by a surgeon or other qualified medical professional on the use of these products. You should talk with your physician or health care provider for more information about your health condition and whether Arthrex products might be appropriate for you. The surgeon who performs any surgical procedure is responsible for determining and using the appropriate techniques for surgical procedures on each individual patient. Arthrex recommends that surgeons be trained on the use of any particular product before using it in surgery. A surgeon must always rely on their own professional medical judgment when deciding whether to use a particular product when treating a particular patient. A surgeon must always refer to the package insert, product label, and/or directions for use before using any Arthrex product. Postoperative management is patient-specific and dependent on the treating professional’s assessment. Individual results will vary and not all patients will experience the same postoperative activity level or outcomes. Products may not be available in all markets because product availability is subject to the regulatory approvals and medical practices in individual markets. Please contact Arthrex if you have questions about the availability of products in your area.