Limb Lengthening and Complex Reconstruction Service

Patient Stories - Julie Fitzgerald


Julie Fitzgerald, Watermill, New York — ankle distraction
My story really began 23 years ago when I tripped on a rock in a parking lot. Who knew that such a simple mishap could lead to where I am today? My fall was caused by a giant cell tumor in my right ankle that had fractured the joint. This led to surgery to remove the tumor and a graft taken from my hip to “rebuild the ankle.” Two surgeries followed by several months of recovery, I was back on my feet, with limitations and with the knowledge that “someday,” I might need to have a fusion if the ankle joint deteriorated and caused too much pain.

My “someday” finally came after years of increasing pain, swelling, tripping and waking up from painful ankle spasms. I was tired of living in pain and being afraid of falling. I hated that I could no longer walk barefoot, (especially on the beach, which I loved) without going up on tiptoe. Most of all, I was worried that as I got older, it would only get worse. I was referred to Dr. John Kennedy at HSS to explore what treatments might be available. Dr. Kennedy discussed the options including an alternative to the ankle fusion that I had so dreaded, a procedure called ankle distraction arthroplasty that he and Dr. Austin Fragomen could perform. more

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