Vail surgeons offer new rotator cuff, Achilles repair techniques |

Vail surgeons offer new rotator cuff, Achilles repair techniques

Melanie Wong

VAIL — Surgeons at Vail-Summit Orthopaedics are using several new techniques that doctors claim are giving patients better options and better results when it comes to rotator cuff and Achilles heel injuries.

Dr. John Paul Elton is one of the few foot-and-ankle surgeons in the United States utilizing a new, minimally invasive technique to repair Achilles ruptures.

Traditionally, Achilles repairs involved making a 6-inch-long incision to repair the heel. Recovery could be complicated and long, and the procedure especially put patients at risk for infection, Elton said.

The new method, which has been developed in the past five years, only requires a 1-inch incision. Doctors then insert a specially-designed suture device through the wound, which allows surgeons to sew up the area.

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Recovery from an Achilles heel rupture usually ranges from six to 12 months. Elton said the new procedure doesn’t necessarily speed up recovery, but it causes less discomfort after surgery, less blood loss and lowers the risk of infection.

One recent patient, Christy Campton of Frisco, had the surgery in December and said she was pleasantly surprised at how easy the recovery felt.

“I had a friend who ruptured his Achilles and said it was very painful right after surgery. I know it’s different for every person, but to be honest my recovery has been much easier than I thought it would be,” Campton said.

Rotator Cuffs

Another Vail Summit Orthopaedics surgeon, Dr. Erik Dorf, has been using a new technique to repair partial rotator cuff tears. The injury is a common one in mountain communities — Dorf said he typically sees two or three rotator cuff tears per week in the fall and spring. The new “trans-cuff” technique allows doctors to look at the part of the cuff that is torn from underneath, put anchors in it from that underneath location and repair just the tear itself.

The traditional method is to operate from above and complete the tear before repairing it. Dorf said the new technique is making the decision to have surgery that much easier for active people suffering from a partial tear.

“It’s a nice middle ground,” he said.

Assistant Managing Editor Melanie Wong can be reached at 970-748-2927 and

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