Ankle replacement is a surgical procedure to place an artificial device in the ankle. The devices replace bone and joint structures damaged by disease or injury.
Severe damage to the joint from injury or illness, such as arthritis, can make it difficult to walk and do basic daily activities. This surgery may be considered if other treatment methods fail and the ankle is causing severe pain or disability.
This procedure is not for everyone. Certain factors can affect the success of the procedure. Ankle replacement may not be advised if there is:
Repeated injury can lead to weak supporting structures of the ankle and foot
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Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems, like:
Before your procedure, talk to your doctor about ways to manage factors that may increase your risk of complications, such as:
Your doctor may do the following:
In the time leading up to the procedure:
Ankle replacement may be done with:
An incision will be made in the front or side of the ankle. The damaged tissue, including areas of bone, will be removed. The remaining bone will be trimmed and prepared for the artificial joint devices. The metal and plastic devices will be inserted into and secured to the bone. One part is placed onto bone of the leg and the lower part is connected to bones of the foot. The Achilles tendon may need to be lengthened to reduce the tension from the calf muscle.
After the changes are done, the incision will be closed with stitches or staples. A bandage will be placed on the incision.
About 2 ½ hours
Anesthesia will prevent pain during surgery. There will be pain and discomfort after the procedure but it can be managed with medications.
This procedure is done in a hospital setting. The usual length of stay is 1-3 days. If you have any problems, you may need to stay longer.
At the Hospital
Right after the procedure, you will be in a recovery room where your blood pressure, pulse, and breathing will be monitored. Recovery may also include:
During your hospital stay, you will:
During your stay, the hospital staff will take steps to reduce your chance of infection such as:
There are also steps you can take to reduce your chances of infection such as:
Recovery time will depend on overall health and amount of work that was done.
The ankle will not be able to support weight and may be immobilized for up to 6 weeks. Physical therapy will be recommended to help with strength, flexibility, and range of motion of the ankle.
Follow your doctor's instructions.
Contact your doctor if your recovery is not progressing as expected or you develop complications such as:
If you think you have an emergency, call for emergency medical services right away.
Foot Care MD—American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society
Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
Canada Foot—Canadian Orthopaedic Food and Ankle Society
Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation
Arthritis of the foot and ankle. Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00209. Updated March 2015. Accessed May 11, 2016.
Osteoarthritis (OA) of the ankle. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated March 25, 2015. Accessed May 11, 2016.
Recovery room. DePuy Orthopaedics Joint Replacement website. Available at: http://www.jointreplacement.com/docs/Ankle/Replacement/Rehabilitation/following_ars.html. Updated October 23, 2007. Accessed May 11, 2016.
Total ankle arthroplasty. American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Surgeons Foot Care MD website. Available at: http://www.aofas.org/footcaremd/treatments/Pages/Total-Ankle-Arthroplasty.aspx. Accessed May 11, 2016.
Total ankle replacement surgery for arthritis. University of Washington Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine website. Available at: http://www.orthop.washington.edu/?q=patient-care/articles/ankle/total-ankle-replacement-surgery-for-arthritis.html. Accessed May 11, 2016.
Last reviewed May 2016 by Warren A. Bodine, DO, CAQSM