Arthrodesis fuses the two bones that form a joint. The joint can no longer move after the procedure. One or more joints may be fused at the same time.
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This surgery is done to ease ankle or foot pain when other methods have not helped. It may also be done to treat poorly healed fractures, arthritis, damaged cartilage, infections, or abnormal foot structures.
Problems are rare, but all procedures have some risk. The doctor will go over some problems that could happen, such as:
Things that may raise the risk of problems are:
The surgical team may meet with you to talk about:
The doctor may give:
A few small incisions will be made. A narrow tool called an arthroscope will be placed through one incision. The scope has a tiny camera to let the doctor view the area. Other small instruments will be inserted through the other incisions. These tools will be used to do the surgery. There are many ways to fuse the two bones together. Long screws or bone grafts may be used. The incisions will be closed with stitches and bandaged.
The doctor may need to switch to open surgery. A long incision will be made on your foot and ankle to do the surgery.
2 to 5 hours
Pain and swelling are common in the first few weeks. Medicine and home care can help.
You may be able to go home in 2 to 4 days. If you have problems, you may need to stay longer.
At the care center, the staff may:
During your stay, staff will take steps to lower your chance of infection, such as:
You can also lower your chance of infection by:
It will take up to 4 months to heal and fuse the joint(s). You will have a gradual return to normal activity levels. During that time, you will be in a cast or boot.
Call your doctor if you are not getting better or you have:
If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.
American College of Sports Medicine
Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
Canadian Orthopaedic Association
Public Health Agency of Canada
Arthritis of the foot and ankle: arthrodesis. Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00209. Updated December 2019. Accessed July 16, 2020.
Ankle arthrodesis. FootCareMD—American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society website. Available at: http://www.aofas.org/footcaremd/treatments/Pages/Ankle-Arthrodesis.aspx. Updated 2018. Accessed July 16, 2020.
Deben SE, Pomeroy GC. Subtle cavus foot: diagnosis and management. J Am Acad Orthop Surg. 2014 Aug;22(8):512-520.
Pes cavus. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:https://www.dynamed.com/condition/pes-cavus. Updated September 26, 2017. Accessed July 16, 2020.
Last reviewed March 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Warren A. Bodine, DO, CAQSM Last Updated: 3/23/2021