This is an operation to “fuse” or stiffen the ankle joint by joining the bones in the ankle.
Why Would It Be Performed?
Ankle fusions are performed for two main reasons:
- Ankle arthritis, either due to osteoarthritis or due to rheumatoid arthritis.
- Severe deformity or instability of the ankle joint.
Though some patient may be offered the option of an ankle replacement. It is not an option for all patients especially if:
- You are young (usually under 50) or very physically active.
- You have a severe foot deformity.
- Your ankle is very unstable.
- You have had an infection in the ankle or the bones around it.
- The bone under the ankle (the talus) has collapsed.
Here, an ankle fusion would be advised. If you have a severe foot deformity, you may be advised to have this corrected at the same time as your ankle fusion by fusing other joints in the foot. This would be discussed at the same time as your ankle fusion
What Does It Involve?
Ankle fusion is often done using arthroscopic techniques. This involves the use of a fibre-optic camera and specialised instrument through 2 small incisions to remove the joint surfaces and to allow the two bones to heal together.
The bones are held securely by two screws inserted from the inner aspect of the leg just above the ankle joint, to allow the bone to unite in the correct position. For those with a tight Achilles tendon or weak muscle or both, the Achilles tendon may also be lengthened during this surgery by making three small cuts in the calf and stretching the tendon.
For more information on what to expect after surgery, please click the link for a detailed patient guide on this surgery.