What is Ankle Replacement?
Ankle replacement is a procedure used to restore ankle mobility and aid in pain management. This is accomplished by removing diseased or injured portions of ankle and implanting a device.
Who needs Ankle Replacement?
This procedure may be beneficial to those with severely damaged ankle joints. Typical symptoms of this damage include pain and mobility loss in the ankle. This can be caused by injury or trauma, infection, or degenerative conditions like arthritis.
What are the steps in Ankle Replacement?
The front of the patient's foot is positioned so that the surgeon has clear access. The patient is given anesthetic and the area the procedure will be performed in is cleaned and sterilized.
Damaged Bone is Removed
The surgeon makes an incision on the front of the ankle and examines the area. The surgeon then removes a portion of the tibia, or shin bone. If necessary, a portion of the fibula, or calf bone, may be removed to create space for the device to be implanted. Finally, the surgeon cuts away the top of the talus, a bone that meets with the fibula and tibia to create the lower part of the ankle joint, and smoothes it down.
Inserting the Implant
The implant is placed between the talus and tibia. Bone graft may be used to fuse the tibia and fibula together to keep the implant secure.
The Implant is Stabilized
A bone plate may be placed on the outer side of the fibula if the patient requires a syndesmotic fusion. This fusion may be necessary if the syndesmosis, the ligament connecting the fibula and tibia, is torn due to injury. The surgeon attaches the plate to the fibula and tibia with two surgical screws, securing it just above the ankle joint. Finally, the surgeon tests the ankle to ensure the implants are secured correctly.
End of Procedure
The surgeon closes the incision, and the ankle is then bandaged and fitted with a splint.
This procedure requires a three to five day hospital stay after the surgery, during which you will be monitored. The splint will be removed a few days after the procedure so that you may begin physical therapy exercises. These exercises are an important part of the healing process, and adherence to them will help you return to pain free mobility much faster. After you leave the hospital, it is important that you do not apply weight to the ankle for at least six weeks. Some patients may require an ankle support for up to a year.