Is The InterPhlex A Viable Option In Hammertoe Surgery?

By Kerry Zang, DPM

      One of the most common conditions that the foot and ankle surgeon will encounter is the hammertoe deformity. Surgeons have used multiple procedures for more than 60 years to deal with this condition. These have included amputation of the digit, arthrodesis of the interphalangeal joints, soft tissue releases, arthroplasty (removal of bone, partial or complete), tendon transfers, implants and/or a combination of the above. The most popular procedure during this time has been the arthroplasty with resection of the head of the proximal phalanx.       However, a new interphalangeal digital implant has emerged for the correction of hammertoe deformities. Podiatric surgeons may utilize the InterPhlex (OsteoMed) to augment arthroplasty procedures with the implant functioning as an interphalangeal stabilizing rod and joint spacer.       As podiatric surgeons, we now know that a combination of etiologic factors contributes to the formation of the hammertoe deformity. These factors include but are not limited to the following: mechanical imbalances between the long flexor and extensor muscles and tendons; weakness of the intrinsic muscles of the foot; injury; systemic collagen and neuromuscular disorders; and degenerative capsulopathy (plantar plate derangement) of the metatarsophalangeal joint.       In preparation for the reconstructive surgical procedure, one must consider and address all of the aforementioned factors in order to achieve optimal results.

How The InterPhlex Implant Works

      The foot and ankle surgeon can use the InterPhlex interdigital implant to stabilize the digit and help maintain the length of the toe after an arthroplasty, a joint resection procedure. The implant is 28 mm in length and has a stem diameter of 2.2 mm. At the two-thirds mark in the implant, there is a circular ball that helps maintain the length of the digit by preventing the rod portion from migrating. This circular ball also functions as a fulcrum to help maintain some motion. Two sizes (4 mm and 4.5 mm) are available for the circular portion of the spacer.       This implant is not a joint replacement device but is rather a functional spacer and stabilizing rod. As the operative site heals, there is increased stability due to the development of dense fibrous tissue around the implant in the area of the joint resection. This dense fibrous tissue then develops into a flexible fusion.

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