New Ways to Fix Hammertoes

For the past few decades, surgeons have used the same method to hold the toe in place after hammertoe surgery.  Traditionally, they use a wire stabilize the toe for 4-6 weeks after surgery.  This wire, known as a k-wire, runs down the middle of the bones in the toe, through the skin, and out the end of the toe.  It is fast, technically sound, and inexpensive.  Unfortunately, using the wire adds to the patient’s worry of a pin sticking out of the end of their toe, small possibility of infection, and the anxiety and discomfort of removing the pin.


Modern technology has allowed for newer forms of screws and staples to replace the k-wire.  There are three different types of implants now available.  The first type is heat moldable metal implant known as Hammerlock and Smart Toe.  These implants are stored in cold temperature.  Once they are inserted into the warm bone, the medal expands to grip and lock the bone.  This prevents the implant and bone from moving.  The next type of implant is known as a peg-and-hole style.  These implants have two parts, with one being inserted into both sides of the bones needing to be fused together.  Then, the two pieces are snapped together to create one stable implant.  StayFuse and Pro-Toe are peg-and-hole implants.  The last type of implant is the Arrow-LOK implant.  This implant has a 3- dimensional arrow tip at both ends of a metal wire that allow it to grip and unite two bones.


These new methods have created options for surgeons and patients to choose from when decided on surgery.  K-wires are still the gold standard, but newer implants offer patients the option of internal stabilization.  It is important for patients to know their options and speak with their surgeon before any operation.  Drs Hirt, and Holdren are trained in multiple methods to fix hammertoes and develop tailored plans for each patient.