Ankle Fusion

Ankle Fusion (Arthrodesis)

  • You have an abnormality of the ankle joint which no longer works properly.  The joint surfaces are worn and are causing pain.
  • This causes a severe restriction of movement between these two bones.
  • With time, progressive degeneration occurs at this joint which will increase your pain.
  • I have proposed a fusion of the ankle joint, which I believe has an excellent chance of significantly reducing and probably abolishing your pain.
  • The operation will be performed using keyhole techniques called arthroscopy.  This is involves two incisions less than 10 mm either side of the front of the ankle.  With a telescope and other small instruments the joint surface is prepared by removing any remaining cartilage and ensuring that the surfaces can be placed together.
  • The joint is then held together using two metal screws which are placed from above the ankle through two separate small wounds.  Four small incisions are therefore required to perform the operation.
  • After the operation the leg will be immobilised in a below the knee plaster for a total of 12 weeks.  You will be able to rest it to the ground with light pressure only for the first 6 weeks.  For the second period of 6 weeks you will be able to walk on the plaster with as much weight as you find comfortable.
  • You will stay in hospital for one or two nights depending on your home circumstances.
  • You will be seen at two weeks where the wounds will be checked and the cast changed.
  • The risks of surgery include infection, bleeding into the wound, nerve injury resulting in altered feeling along the foot, failure of fusion and persisting discomfort. The chances of complications are small, the majority being in the order of less than 1%, although the risk of the fusion not joining would be somewhere between 5% and 10%.  If this were to occur you may need a second operation.
  • You will be seen at three months after surgery where an X-ray will be taken to check on fusion.  Assuming all is satisfactory, the plaster will be removed and you may need ongoing physiotherapy to help with your rehabilitation.
  • The overall time period for recovery will be approximately nine months but for the last three months you will be independently mobile with few problems.