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For Immediate Release
Stepping in to Help: Podiatrist brings special skills to Appleton practice
Appleton, Wis. (November 03, 2008) – Q On your recent medical missions with Physician for Peace in Africa, you used advanced reconstructive surgical techniques on compound deformities of the feet. How does that translate into a new practice here in Wisconsin where these problems are rare? A We don't see polio deformities here, which is really what I've gone to Africa for to correct. But the same principles and skills apply there as they do here. In Africa, I was dealing with much more severe deformities. People who were walking on the tops of their feet.
Q You've used the Ilizarov technique, which I understand is unusual? A Ilizarov was a Russian physician who pioneered this technique for war injuries. It's a percutaneous wire frame that stabilizes fractures. With it you're able to do limb lengthenings and other things like that.
Q You're doing surgery tonight. What kind of surgery is it? A It's a diabetic foot infection.
PODIATRIST TODD DERKSEN performs surgery at the Orthopedic and Sports of the Fox Valley in Appleton last month.
Q Do you see a lot of that? A Unfortunately yes. The baby boomers (are commonly injured) either being weekend warriors and causing all sorts of damage to their feet, whether it's a fracture or arthritis, or they're on the other end of the spectrum, where they're diabetic and overweight.
Q Is it unusual to see a podiatrist working in an orthopedic practice? A Fairly. There are maybe three of four others in the state. That speaks to the level of training I have and the fact that I am typically doing more reconstructive type surgery than corns or calluses that people typically associate with a podiatrist. The idea is that they're trying to be a full orthopedic care facility.
Q They didn't have one before you came? A No, so that's a completely new service for these guys. What sets me apart is there really aren't podiatrists doing compound deformities here in Appleton. I would say almost 30 percent of my practice so far has been the larger deformity stuff. The things I'm dealing with the most here are flat feet or cavus feet deformities. I have several patients booked for major flat foot reconstructions right now. A lot of times, previously, patients would be sent down to Milwaukee, Madison or Chicago. That was one of the reasons they wanted to bring me in was so that they could stop sending (those patients) elsewhere.
Q Anything else unique? A One of the other things I do that would be unique for podiatry would be ankle implant surgery. Everyone knows about total knees and total hip (replacement) but total ankles are much less common. I have several partners who do them, so it's not unique to Appleton from a surgical standpoint. For a podiatrist to do them, it's fairly unique. There is one other podiatrist I know of in the state who does them.
Q What else do you treat? A Trauma. I treat fractures anywhere on the foot and ankle. I will see a gamut of everything. I will still see bunions. I'm more than happy to see them. They're fun.
Q How can a bunion be fun? A It's a fun and rewarding surgery because it's a very effective surgery. The patients are happy afterwards.
Q You gave a foot seminar for the public recently. How did it go? A I think it went very well. I had about 35 people. I've had a couple of patients sign up for appointments since then. I had a very good question-and-answer session at the end that lasted easily as long as the actual presentation. Only one or two people wanted to take their shoes off and show me their feet right there. I had a lot of people who flat-out told me they were basically there for a free second opinion. That's fine. Hopefully the came out of it a little more educated. The problem with modern medicine is we have a limited window of time to talk to our patients. Patients may not have all their questions right there at the appointment. These seminars give them an opportunity to learn more.
Q I can understand how you ended up here because your dad is a family practice doctor in Appleton. But on the Institute's Web site, I see you listed as a mountain climber. A It's supposed to be rock climbing, which is very different. You can do that here. My family is very big into mountain bike racing and people would say there are no mountains here. But there's actually excellent mountain bike racing in the state of Wisconsin.
Q Was it good fortune to find a job this good right here? A It was. It was a lot of luck. The timing was right. The facility is only a couple of years old and they're looking to be all encompassing for orthopedic practice. I offer something they didn't have at the time.
By Maureen Wallenfang Post-Crescent staff writer
Orthopedic & Sports Institute • 2105 E. Enterprise Avenue • Appleton, WI • www.osifv.com