The study was presented at the Midwest Podiatry Conference in Chicago by Thomas A. Brosky II, of the Foot and Ankle Clinic of Oakwood, Ga. He started his investigation by choosing patients whose heel pain had not responded to conservative treatments such as ice applications, stretching and over-the-counter pain relievers. He then treated them with a minimally invasive 20-minute outpatient procedure known as Topaz, which involves the debridement, or removal of damaged or dead tissue, from, for example, tendons in the knee, shoulder, elbow and ankle.
When a podiatrist uses Topaz to alleviate heel pain, she makes several small punctures, using light anesthesia, a quarter-inch apart for the Topaz wand to enter. The wand then delivers half-second bursts of radiofrequency energy on and around the injured tendon. With every fourth application, the wand is inserted deeper – about one-quarter inch into the tendon.
The main part of Brosky’s study involved following up on 100 of the Topaz patients with a survey to determine Topaz’s success and participants’ level of satisfaction. Of the 100 surveyed, 92 responded. Regarding their experience of pain in the six weeks following the operation, 47 said they were pain-free, 27 had mild pain and 18 reported moderate pain. More than 90 percent said they were happy with Topaz and would recommend it to a friend.
“The results of our survey indicate that many patients who undergo Topaz do very well, even when surveyed a year after the procedure,” Brosky said.
After recovery, nearly 80 percent of the participants reported they could walk several blocks without pain and that, while 47 patients said they weren’t able to run before the surgery, 65 said they could run afterward.