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St. Mary's Center for Orthopaedics

Ankle Replacement

Patients with the following conditions may be candidates for surgery:

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Arthritis caused by ankle surgery in the past
  • Bone fracture

Surgical treatment options for ankle arthritis include:

Arthroscopic Ankle Surgery

Arthroscopic surgery can usually help in the early stages of arthritis. During this procedure, a small instrument about the size of a pencil, called an arthroscope, is inserted into the joint. A surgeon can then view the inside of the joint on a monitor. Using tiny forceps, knives and shavers, the surgeon can clean out the joint area, removing any foreign tissues or bone spurs present in the joint.

 Ankle Fusion Surgery

This type of surgery, also called arthrodesis, involves removing the ankle joint and fusing together the fibula (calf bone), tibia (shin bone) and talus (foot bone) with rods, pins, screws and plates. After healing, the bones remain fused together.

Total Ankle Replacement

Total ankle replacement surgery, also called ankle arthroplasty, is usually reserved for cases of severe, late-stage ankle arthritis. The worn out joint surfaces of the end of the shin bone (tibia) and the top of the ankle bone (talus) are removed. A metal and plastic implant is put in place to act as the new joint.

Ideal candidates for ankle replacement surgery are:

  • Age 50 and older
  • In good general health
  • In severe ankle pain from arthritis or cartilage injury

After ankle replacement surgery:

  • Patients typically go home the next day
  • Gentle range-of-motion exercises will begin one week post surgery
  • Patients will be able to move with the assistance of either a walker or crutches
  • Light weight can be put on the affected ankle after two to three weeks; full body weight at six weeks
  • Total recovery time is usually within two to three months
  • Patients may return to work as soon as they are authorized by their surgeon