Bilateral Ankle Replacement Surgery was a Success for Martial Arts Teacher


Patient: George C. Heath

Over the years, George C. Heath, founder and owner of Dragon Martial Arts Yong Moo Do Kwan School in Glen Mills PA, had eventually developed arthritis in both ankles. This was caused by a dirt bike injury as a teenager, and a skydiving injury later in life. Over the years, from the stress of high-impact exercises and activities, his arthritis had gotten worse. As a result, Heath decided to have his ankles evaluated. He scheduled appointments with two orthopaedic surgeons but was reluctant and dissatisfied with their suggestions. After looking for a third opinion, Heath was referred to Premier foot and ankle surgeon Spencer Monaco, DPM, by Premier spine specialist Matthew Schaeffer, M.D.

Dr. Monaco evaluated Heath’s ankles and determined his left ankle had sustained more severe damage than the right. However, his right ankle was causing pain, which affected his martial arts teaching and daily life activities. Heath decided to undergo ankle replacement surgery on his right ankle in February 2020, with the intention of waiting a year to have the left ankle replaced as well.

“The patient’s expectations and complete understanding of how the implant is intended to work are paramount when selecting candidates for total ankle replacement,” explains Dr. Monaco. “With improved instrumentation and implant designs, ankle replacement surgery has become the standard in my practice for patients with debilitating ankle arthritis. This type of surgery, however, is not for every patient with ankle pain or arthritis. A thorough consultation is performed on each patient considering this type of surgery,” states Dr. Monaco.

“Dr. Monaco is definitely by far the best. He took adequate time to explain the important details – how the implant works, what it is made of, how long it should last, what to expect from the procedure, and the length of recovery. He was the only orthopaedic surgeon who brought a replica of the implant during the initial appointment,” says Heath.

Unfortunately, Heath’s left ankle progressively had gotten worse, causing him significant pain. It had been nine months post-op on his right ankle, which was adequate time to schedule replacement surgery for the left. Dr. Monaco scheduled Heath for his second ankle replacement surgery in November 2020.

Both surgeries were a success for Heath. After his right ankle replacement surgery, and following up with Premier physical therapy, Heath was back teaching martial arts within ten weeks. By June 2021, he had slowly returned to his martial arts training, bike riding, hiking, swimming, and other outdoor activities he enjoys – per Dr. Monaco’s approval.

Heath says, “If anyone is considering ankle replacement surgery. I whole-heartedly recommend Dr. Spencer Monaco. Once someone schedules an appointment with him for an evaluation and discusses their situation, they will realize he is the surgeon they can trust. He is truly the best!”

“Thank you, Dr. Monaco, for giving me back the comfort of life, doing the things that I enjoy. Of course, in moderation,” states Heath.