When Bunion Surgery Goes Wrong

What are the causes of failed bunion surgeries?

A hallux valgus, more commonly known as a bunion, is a bump that forms near the base of your big toe.  Bunions can occur when the big toe pushes against the toe next in line, causing the joint of the big toe to become larger and protrude.  While some minor bunions may not cause any pain or mobility issues, when bunions grow to be large they could start negatively impacting your life.  Bunion sufferer may find themselves limited as to what footwear they can use and may experience chronic foot pain. Seeking relief for their symptoms, those with bunions might elect to undergo bunion surgery.  Unfortunately, bunion surgery is not always successful and those surgeries that fail may leave the patient in worse condition than before.

Why Bunion Surgery May Fail

Bunions are extremely common and it is estimated that up to 30 percent of all people will one day experience a bunion.  Risk factors for bunions include wearing shoes and age. Women more commonly suffer from bunions, likely due to tight fitting and uncomfortable shoes.  Bunion surgery is usually considered the ultimate treatment for a large bunion. Usually, bunion surgery will successfully alleviate the problem, but at times bunion surgery fails.

The most common complications that could arise with a failed bunion surgery include:

  • Under or over correction
  • Excessive shortening of the metatarsal
  • Loss of correction
  • Ongoing swelling
  • Infection
  • Deep venous thrombosis
  • Nonunion or the bone not healing
  • Malunion or the bone healing in the wrong position

The root of most failed bunion surgeries is the failure of the podiatrist to properly develop a surgical plan for correction of the issue.  Each bunion is unique and must be treated individually. Should a doctor perform the same type of surgery on every patient, several patients will not experience correct healing of the bunion.  Some bunion surgery failures can cause long lasting or lifelong complications. When the problem is overcorrected, for example, reconstruction could be necessary to repair the damage.

Podiatrists can at times be legally liable for failed bunion surgeries.  Should the podiatrist make an error during surgery or make a flawed diagnosis and surgical plan, the patient might have a viable medical malpractice lawsuit.

About the Author
Of all the different areas in medical malpractice, it is podiatry malpractice that has had a particular interest to me. With 42 years practicing law and representing hundreds of victims of malpractice, I have created a law practice in which my clients are comfortable knowing that their case is being handled with my personal attention, in the most professional manner, and without unreasonable delays.