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Heal Your Bones With Sound Waves?

Reviewing: Smith & Nephew Exogen 4000 Bone Healing System  |  Rating:
cnt24 By cnt24 on
Badge: Advisor | Level: 20 | Devices & Aids Expertise:
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After some recent surgery, my husband's physician ordered the Exogen 4000+ Ultrasound Bone Healing System by Smith & Nephew to help his foot heal faster. His surgeon has been using systems such as this since their conception. He told us the machine works to help bones heal better and faster than standard casts and treatments alone. Using Ultrasound, It puts sound waves to your bones through a tiny Doppler to encourage bone healing.

The machine is quite easy to use. You apply gel to the sound Doppler, put it in a port where it can contact your skin, and turn it on for 20 minutes. The machine has a timer and it counts down the number of treatments you have completed. Treatments are done once a day at the same time. The Smith & Nephew representative told us the Doppler treats approximately a 3-inch area radius.

This machine is quiet. In fact, it makes no noise at all except a beep to tell you when your treatment is completed or the Doppler has lost contact. You could almost believe that nothing is happening because you cannot feel anything other than the wetness of the gel touching your skin.

So far my husband's follow-up X-rays indicate he is right on track healing. In fact, he is healing much faster than they originally stated in his prognosis. Once he is up on his feet, again I will update this with a time-line.

The Exogen Bone Healing system should only be used through prescription and under doctor supervision. However, I have seen used machines on Craig's List and eBay. If you have broken bones, you may want to try this treatment. Be sure to ask your physician if it is right for you first.

Update On May 26, 2010: I wanted to post a little update on the Exogen 4000 Bone Healing System. After surgery, my husband used the machine as prescribed. Initially, his prognosis was good. Seemingly, he healed in record time. The X-rays showed the bone had fused and every aspect of his recovery was on track. The speedy recovery could possibly be related to the system. He had surgery in August 2009 and was back to work by November walking normally with no issues or swelling.

Of the two injuries, the foot healed much quicker than the clavicle. The ankle and toe were the only areas receiving treatment. The surgeon who did the shoulder did not want the area treated with the machine.

Eight months later, he began having pain and extreme swelling in his ankle. He started limping and complained the pain was so intense he could not do his job. I immediately made him an appointment with his foot doctor. The doctor was called to emergency surgery so we ended up seeing the PA (physician’s assistant). She took X-rays and could see no indication of why he suddenly started having problems. She told him to go back to wearing his boot and ordered he work only light duty.

His limp got progressively worse. He was missing at least one day of work a week. Some days he was unable to walk at all.

I again called the office to make an appointment with the doctor. I insisted we see the doctor and not the PA. If this could not be accomplished, we wanted to be informed and rescheduled. We were able to see him on May 24.

The doctor took more X-rays and found what looked to be a cyst developing around the screws. He ordered a CT scan to get a better look at what was happening in the area. When he read the images, he found the repaired piece of bone was not getting blood and was essentially dying and he developed another fracture. He diagnosed it as Aseptic Necrosis of Bone; Talus.

My husband is back on crutches and will be fitted for a different boot tomorrow to immobilize the ankle entirely. He cannot work for six to eight weeks. He must remain in the new boot for 12-14 months.

If this does not get the bone back to snuff, he may need more surgery. The doctor mentioned fusing the ankle. This will cause a permanent limp and render the ankle immobile. He would also be most likely to have arthritis and constant pain. This is unacceptable.

We did research after the appointment on the condition. We saw another surgical option of bone grafting. I do not know why the doctor did not mention this option. We will be bringing up the procedure at our next appointment in three weeks.

My husband is not having any issues with his clavicle, which healed slower. I wonder if the difference between the two areas is due to the use of the Exogen system. Surgical intervention was necessary for the three fractures. The clavicle is good while the toe and ankle have issues. (The toe does not move.) Perhaps he would not be having problems had the foot been left to heal on its own.