Having any surgery on your foot can be scary. It can be stressful thinking about how long you might be off of your feet or out of work. Thankfully, research and doctors have given us the tools and knowledge to perform a simpler surgery.

The Bunion

It’s the most common foot issue.  Doctors have been improving methods of removing them for centuries. Bunions are common and the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) estimates between 23%-35% in people have them.

A bunion is painful. Usually, symptoms occur on the edge of the foot, the sole, the big toe and small toe. This has been affecting humans for centuries and doctors have been trying to find a “cure”. In 1981, Dr. Basil Helal counted over 150 different procedures to treat bunions.

In the past, people had two options: surgery or non-invasive treatments like wraps and splints. That’s until minimally invasive surgery (MIS).

What is Minimally Invasive Foot Surgery?

Minimally Invasive Foot Surgery is a new surgical method that limits the damage to the foot by making the incision as small as possible.  This reduces pain and healing time.

Minimally invasive surgery is your best bet if you want to walk out of the doctor’s office after. In this surgery, there is little to no stitching. Doctors use small instruments to perform the operation inside the foot. There is no large cut or rows of stitches.

Minimally invasive foot surgery requires only local numbing drugs (you will be awake the entire time) and patients can go back to work the same day. Podiatric surgery has had a negative view of the minimally invasive procedure. This is it was developed when doctors were still experimenting in the 1970s and 1980s. By the 1990s however, it was the best procedure a patient could have.  Today, MIS boasts thousands of successful procedures and thrilled patients who remain active and bunion-free to this day.

Early Attempts at Foot Surgery

Bunions have always been an issue and in 1836, Dr. Gernet was the first to remove them. He removed the bone to get the foot to heal. At the time, it was not super successful.

As time went on, bunion issues continued, and doctors tried to invent new treatments. In 1881, Dr. Reverdin had the first real successful procedure for treating bunions. It was a means of removing a piece from the joint to ease the bunion. The procedure is called the Hohmann osteotomy, and it was the first real foot surgery with multiple successes.

Still, it wasn’t fool proof. Doctors believed there had to be a better way of treating patients. Doctors wanted to ensure that quality of life is not affected.

It wasn’t until they developed the technology in the 1940s, that minimally invasive foot surgery became a reality. Doctors began to finally be creative.

Soon, early reports began to surface of new treatments.

By the 1960s, technology and equipment for MIS were made and improved. Then, doctors introduced a technique. It is when minimally invasive surgery truly became popular. And, the technology was simple. It allowed a doctor to view a continuous image of what they were doing inside the patient. They no longer had to make large cuts to see inside.

Foot Surgery: The Nineties to Now

The 1990’s was when the procedure truly sparked innovation in the minds of doctors. With the latest technology at hand, different minimally invasive foot procedures began to spring up all over the country. They designed science and bone physics for MIS. These included:

  • Davis’s Law: It uses this model in anatomy and physiology to describe how soft tissue replicates itself.
  • Wolff’s LawThe law applies to the phenomenon where bone heals according to the stresses it is subject to.

Simultaneously, as science was developing, so were the different methods of application. First, in 1990, Dr. Bosch and his team developed the SCOT (SubCapital Osteotomy Techniques) procedure. It involved using MIS to remove parts of the joint and stabilizing the toe with wire.

They allowed full weight bearing on the foot, with protective gear. The doctor and his team planned a 7 and 10-year follow-up for their patients to assess the success of the operation. Fast forward to the year 2000.

Then, Dr. Bosch and his team discovered that out of 114 feet, 81% of patients were satisfied, with 95% reported no pain. There was also a significant reduction in radiographic measurements. They deemed the procedure a great success.

By the year 2005, other doctors began to follow suit. Then, Dr. Magnan and his colleagues applied Bosch’s method to 188 patients with a two-year follow-up. They saw a significant correction in pre and post-op parameters.

In that study, 91% of patients reported satisfaction.

Then, the medical community was catching on. Dr. Giannini and his colleagues developed a procedure called the Modification SERI (Simple, Effective, Rapid, Inexpensive). They made minor modifications to Bosch’s method and reported a 92% fair to excellent satisfaction rate in 54 of their patients.

Finally, minimally invasive foot surgery is one of the easiest and less stressful procedures a patient can have on their bunion. Today, they write many articles and guides about how successful this procedure is. Using the latest technology, doctors have found a means to not only improve a patient’s quality of life but do so in the least invasive way possible.