Deborah McCoy, MICRONAIL® Intramedullary Distal Radius System Recipient
© 2006, Deborah McCoy. All rights reserved.
(In Her Own Words)
In August, 2006, while walking briskly into my kitchen, I slipped on pesto sauce that had accidentally spilled on the tile. My feet left the floor with what seemed like the velocity of a rocket and I came down solidly on my right wrist.
Rushed to the hospital, the ER physician confirmed that I had fractured my wrist and it was severe. I waited for the orthopaedic surgeon, who put my arm in a splint and suggested that I be admitted to the hospital so his partner could operate in the morning. I declined.
Over the next few days, I saw two different orthopaedic surgeons. The first suggested an "external fixator", a device that's inserted through the skin and into the bones to hold them correctly in place. He told me there would be two surgeries, one to insert the fixator and one to remove it. The idea of walking around with a device protruding from my arm—and one that put holes in my flesh—not only sounded antiquated, but was abhorrent. I said, "No." (He also failed to mention the high rate of "pin-tract" infection that results from the fixator.1)
The second surgeon suggested what he called a "volar plate" and talked me into the surgery, which he scheduled for a few days after my office appointment. I asked him about complications which he told me were virtually nil.
Being a researcher and writer, I decided to take matters into my own hands and investigate my proposed surgery. I found that contrary to what the doctor had told me, complications after volar plating were a steep 22%.2 The statistic hit me with the intensity of a hard punch to the mid-section. Because I am right-handed and had fractured my right wrist, I was not going to take a greater than one-in-five chance that something could go wrong; I cancelled the surgery.
Not knowing where to turn, I turned to my favorite search-engine, Google™, and typed in "wrist fracture treatments." Miraculously, up popped the MICRONAIL® fixation device from Wright Medical. I read about it, thought it was the answer, and emailed Wright for referrals of physicians in my area who were experienced with the procedure.
Because the MICRONAIL® System is relatively new, Wright suggested to me the members of the development team, one of whom was Dr. Joseph Slade, Yale University School of Medicine. I emailed Dr. Slade, got a quick response and before I knew it, was on my way from Florida to New Haven, Connecticut, for an appointment. The surgery was scheduled for the following day.
My fracture was more than severe. I had extensive nerve damage and because of my injury, also suffered from carpal tunnel syndrome*. The surgery was extensive, but when I awoke, Dr. Slade assured me that he had "hit a homerun!" I fell asleep with the MICRONAIL® [implant] firmly in place (inside my bone, instead of on the top, like the volar plate) and without a worry in the world.
It's now just weeks after surgery. I have no splint or cast. My side-to-side movement is 100% and I'm working hard on my up-and-down motion, which I am confident will return to 100%. I will not settle for less and here's where determination and perseverance play a key role. From the minute I was out of surgery and conscious, I moved my fingers and hand, exactly as Dr. Slade had instructed me. When I got home, I set my kitchen timer and even when I was working, stopped every hour to exercise my arm, fingers, and hand. Because of that exercise, I healed fast.
And there's more good news. Because the MICRONAIL® [device] is implanted arthroscopically (a minimally-invasive surgical technique), I have only a few, half-inch scars on my forearm which are fading fast. In a few months, no one will see them. Compare this to the external fixator, or the scar that can result from the plate. (After looking at the plating procedure on the Internet, I told Wright that I didn't relish the idea of walking around with a scar that suggested that I tried to slit my wrist.)
That's my story. I didn't settle for the opinions of doctors who told me after my injury that my wrist would never be the same (and they did). I didn't settle for a plate that could quite possibly rupture my tendons (one of the complications), or a device that I perceived as antiquated, which would protrude from my arm, or leave me open to unnecessary infection. I took my health into my own hands and with Wright and Dr. Slade behind me, I achieved miraculous results.
* Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when the nerve that runs from the forearm to the wrist (called the median nerve) becomes depressed causing pain, weakness or numbness in the hand and wrist.
-- Deborah McCoy is president of the American Academy of Wedding Professionals™ and is a noted author of bridal-reference books.
These results are specific to this individual only. Individual results and activity levels after surgery vary and depend on many factors including age, weight and prior activity level.
There are risks and recovery times associated with surgery and there are certain individuals who should not undergo surgery.
Only a physician can tell you if this product and associated procedure are right for you and your unique circumstances. Please consult with a physician for complete information regarding benefits, risks and possible outcomes.
- A. Egol, MD, Nader Paksima DO, MPH, Steven Puopola, MD, Jeffrey Klugman, MD, Rudi Hiebert, MSc and Kenneth Koval, MD, "Treatment of External Fixation Pins About the Wrist: A Prospective, Randomized Trial," The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery (American), no.88 (2006): 349-354 doi: 10.2106/JBJS.E.00011
- Tamara D. Rozental, MD, Philip E. Blazar, MD, "Functional Outcome and Complications After Volar Plating for I Displaced, Unstable Fractures of the Distal Radius," Journal of Hand Surgery, Vol. 31, Issue 3 (March 2006) 359-365.