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Surgeon Performs Monongahela Valley Hospital's First Total Ankle Replacement

Dr. William DeCarbo meets with Kathleen Miller during her first office visit 10 days following surgery.

(October 4, 2012 — Carroll Township, Pa.)

Kathleen Miller, of Hiller, Pa., discovered firsthand how the community benefits from expert physicians and surgeons on the staff at Monongahela Valley Hospital. In September, Kathleen was one of the first people to have total ankle replacement surgery outside of Pittsburgh in Southwestern Pennsylvania — and the first person to have this surgery at Monongahela Valley Hospital. William T. DeCarbo, D.P.M., who practices with The Orthopedic Group and treats all aspects of the foot and ankle with special interest in advanced reconstructive surgery, performed the 90-minute operation. He is one of only a handful of surgeons trained in Western Pennsylvania who perform total ankle replacement surgery.

Kathleen, who is a state parole agent, had no reservations about being the first person to have a total ankle replacement at Monongahela Valley Hospital.

“I had been looking into ankle surgery for sometime,” she said. “I went to other doctors for their opinions about what would be best for my ankle before I went to The Orthopedic Group and met Dr. DeCarbo. He was absolutely wonderful. He made me feel so comfortable and relaxed because he took the time to explain everything to me. He was not in a rush at any time during my examination. I weighed the situation and I decided that I’d rather be the first person to have the surgery by Dr. DeCarbo at Monongahela Valley Hospital, because I knew that he’d take his time and it would be done correctly. He made me feel like he was treating me as a whole person — I was not just another ankle.”

Kathleen returned to Dr. DeCarbo’s office in the Spartan Medical Facility, in Carroll Township, 10 days following her surgery. At that time, her foot was placed in a non-weight bearing cast. As her healing progresses, she will eventually be transitioned to a boot walker then physical therapy. The entire recovery process is expected to be three or four months.

“This is the third generation of the implant device and its results have been proving to be better and better,” said Dr. DeCarbo.

He went on to explain that the device used for her ankle replacement has been in use in Europe for nearly 20 years. It is constructed from plasma coated titanium with a polyethylene spacer.

Dr. DeCarbo identifies the ideal candidate for total ankle replacement as a person who has end stage osteoarthritis of the ankle, usually posttraumatic arthritis and is not overweight. Most people who seek this surgery are middle aged and lead more sedentary lifestyles.

Although the surgery performed on Kathleen was the first total ankle replacement at Monongahela Valley Hospital, it was not the first for Dr. DeCarbo. He performed and assisted with many during his advanced medical training. Following graduation from Ohio College of Podiatric Medicine where he earned his Doctor of Podiatric Medicine degree, Dr. DeCarbo did a three-year foot and ankle residency at Grant Medical Center in Columbus, Ohio where he had extensive training in forefoot, hind foot and ankle surgery including reconstruction, implants and limb salvage. He then completed a one-year orthopedic foot and ankle surgical fellowship at the Orthopedic Foot and Ankle Center in Columbus. To further his knowledge and skill, Dr. DeCarbo completed traveling fellowships at the University of Heidelberg, Department of Pediatric Orthopaedics and Foot Surgery, in Germany; Schulthess Klinik, Department of Orthopaedics Foot and Ankle Surgery, in Zurich, Switzerland; and Georgetown University Limb Salvage Center, in Washington, D.C. The New Castle, Pa. native then practiced with the Orthopedic Foot and Ankle Center in Columbus where he did his fellowship. In 2011, he joined The Orthopedic Group.

Dr. DeCarbo also offers his patients something that no amount of training can give a person — an engaging personality. When he sees people in his office — teens, moms, dads, and grandparents — no matter how much pain they are experiencing, they light up when he enters the room. Before their exams and office visits are completed, they are promising him cookies.

“I’m bringing you cookies next time, what kind do you like,” said Kathleen during her first post-surgical visit to his office.

“Chocolate chip,” he whispered in her ear.

He added, “I love my patients. I have as much fun with them as I do outside of this office.”

Dr. DeCarbo has offices throughout the Monongahela Valley and the South Hills including Belle Vernon, Canonsburg, Charleroi, Monongahela, Mt. Lebanon and Uniontown.

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