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Shurtleff faces more surgery on leg


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Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff is back in an operating room today. He hopes another surgery on the leg he badly broke in a motorcycle accident last year can save it from being amputated.

This is the sixth operation Shurtleff has had on the leg since he broke it. The bones he broke in his left leg last September aren't healing correctly.

News crews at a press conference Shurtleff held two days ago noticed he was limping. Shurtleff told The Deseret News this surgery is his last hope to save the leg.

Surgeons will be using the Ilizarov Technique. It's named after the Russian physician Gavriel Ilizarov who invented it. It is more commonly used to lengthen limbs.

First, surgeons will scrape out non-growing bone tissue. Then a "ring external fixator" is placed around the leg, attached to tensioned wires that pass through the bone. The fixator is used to slowly distract the two fragments of bone. As the bone is slowly stretched, new bone forms in the gap. When the desired length is achieved, the fixator is left in place until the new bone matures and heals. The fixator is then removed and the regenerated bone will eventually mature to achieve the strength of the normal bone.

The Ilizarov Technique is unique in all of orthopedics in that it allows the surgeon to use the patients biology to form new bone.

The recovery is expected to take at least six months.

Shurtleff's condition has also been complicated with a staph infection.

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Dr. Kim Mulvihill

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