In Pursuit of Healing
UF Health orthopaedic specialists uncover solutions and help treat a patient’s wound.
Dana Miller enjoys starting his day with a brisk 4-mile walk while livestreaming to his many followers on Facebook. He reaps the benefits of embracing a healthy lifestyle, inspiring others to join him on the journey.
In fall 2019, Dana had to put his regular walks on pause when his wife, Chiquita, noticed a sore the size of a dime on his lower left leg. Not knowing what had caused the wound, but wanting to take care of it quickly, he treated it with antiseptics. Instead of the wound healing, it remained open.
Dana owns a barbershop in Jacksonville and stands on his feet daily for hours at a time. The wound grew larger and began to affect his ability to stand comfortably. A friend suggested he see a wound care specialist. Dana visited a few, including an infectious disease specialist.
He had an MRI taken, which didn’t detect disease in the bone. Antibiotics were then administered for six weeks to Dana through an IV medicine ball to aggressively kill any infection. Despite all efforts, the wound failed to heal. Yet, Dana remained positive and hopeful he would find a physician with a successful treatment plan.
Dana heard about Christine Miller, DPM, DMM, PhD, a podiatrist and wound care specialist at UF Health Jacksonville. She is passionate about wound healing and focuses on improving the quality of life for her patients through prevention and intervention.
She examined Dana’s wound, asked questions and reviewed his medical history to determine what had been preventing the healing process. Finally, Miller found the source. More than 30 years ago, Dana suffered a gunshot wound to his leg, resulting in surgical hardware being inserted in the tibia, or shinbone.
“He had a sizable wound with severe trauma,” Miller said. “The hardware harbored an infection, and as long as the hardware remained in place, the wound could not close. The pins and rods had to be removed.”
To remove the hardware, she consulted with Jason Piraino, DPM, a foot and ankle surgeon and director of the podiatry residency program at UF Health Jacksonville. The two welcomed the chance to collaborate, taking a team approach to their work.
“There was mutual trust from the first day. We are a team with the patient playing the biggest role. They guide us,” Miller said.
In April, Dana underwent outpatient surgery, with Piraino using advanced wound-healing techniques. The surgery took 90 minutes.
“The screws were tight and a challenge to remove,” Piraino said. “I used a reverse threaded screw to remove the device, removed bacteria and checked to make sure the bone was not infected.”
He placed a synthetic skin graft over the wound to promote healing and stimulate skin growth. The healing process usually takes three to five months, but Dana experienced an accelerated healing time and was released from the doctor’s care in June, just two months after the procedure.
Dana’s family supported him throughout the healing process, and he closely followed his providers’ wound care instructions. Piraino credits Dana and Miller on such a successful outcome.
“Patients must have a positive mindset, be compliant and firmly believe they will get better. Dana’s faith and attitude were phenomenal and made a difference in his healing,” Piraino said. “Dr. Miller has a personal touch, treating every patient who walks in the door. Her ability to heal patients is remarkable.”
Dana triumphantly resumed his brisk 4-mile walks and continues to livestream to his many Facebook followers. They are glad he is back to inspire them through his words and deeds.
“I’m blessed. The healing process is really incredible,” Dana said. “The insight I’ve gained from this experience is that no matter the disease or issue, it’s important to have a positive attitude about your health.”