Surgeons turn dancer's ankle into knee joint after cancer

Southampton, N.Y.-based Stony Brook Hospital performed a 13-hour rotationplasty on 13-year-old cancer survivor Delaney Unger so she could once again dance, according to ABC 30 Actions News.

In December 2016, Delaney was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in her left distal femur. She received the operation, known as the Van Ness procedure, in April 2017. Surgeons amputated Delaney's leg to remove the cancer and then rotated her lower leg 180 degrees and reattached it to her thigh. With her foot facing backward, the ankle now acts as Delaney's new knee.

"She actually has to retrain her body, retrain her muscles," Fazel Khan, MD, assistant professor of osteopathic surgery at Stony Brook Medicine, told ABC 30 Action News. "But when she moves her knee now, it's as if she was moving her old ankle. And this allows us to get rid of the cancer completely."

In October 2017, Delaney received a prosthetic leg that fits over her new knee, which allowed her to dance in a recital the following May. Delaney will continue to see Stony Brook physicians for the next five years for check-ups and prosthesis adjustments.

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