Hammer Toe Surgery – Smart Toe Implant
Among the most common foot deformities are ‘hammertoes’: Hammertoes are caused by a muscular imbalance that prevents a toe from straightening – usually the result of poorly fitted shoes, which force the smaller toes into a bent position. This can cause the toe muscles to shorten and become painful over time.
Surgery: Smart Toe vs. Traditional K-wires
Traditional surgical options often appeared quite drastic when compared to the issue itself. This used to involve fusion of the bones to correctly align the toe, which required the use of ‘K-wire’ to stabilise the area as it healed. The wire protruded from the toe for 4 – 6 weeks following the operation. This had the downside of looking quite painful and carried the increased risk of infection due to the open wound.
In response to this a new method was developed called the Smart Toe Memory Implant. This new implant was designed to treat toe pain and hammertoes in particular, as well as other forms of toe deformity such as mallet toes, claw toes and Morton’s toe. The new implant promotes the intended bone fusion without the need for external or exposed wiring.
The Smart Toe Memory Implant makes use of a new alloy called NiTinol that has distinctive compressive properties that are activated by body heat, allowing it to mould to shape once in place. The implant expands, securing it in place, then gradually condenses in length, which encourages joint fusion and healing.
Traditional implants were designed in two parts, but the new implants ‘one-piece’ design reduces the risk of disconnection and rotation postoperatively.