Arthroscopic ankle fusion is a minimally invasive surgical procedure that fuses or joins the ankle bones together
The ankle is the joint that connects the leg and the foot.
The ankle joint includes the two lower leg bones, called the tibia and the fibula, and the anklebone, called the talus.
Together, the ends tibia and fibula create a mortus or slot for the talus which forms the bottom of the ankle joint.
Tissues called ligaments and tendons support the ankle bones.
Ligaments attach bones to bones and tendons attach muscles to bones.
The ankle joint allows the foot to move up and down.
Articular cartilage on the ends of bones is a smooth, gliding covering that allows fluid joint movement.
Ankle fusion, also known as arthrodesis, is a surgical procedure that joins the ankle bones toghther so they no longer move or rub against each other
Doctors may recommend this procedure for conditions that lead to severe ankle joint damage and pain.
The most common condition is osteoarthritis, also knowns as degenerative joint disease.
In the late stage of osteoarthritis, cartilage covering the ends of the bones has worn away exposing bare bone.
This, along with the growth of bone projetions called bone spurs causes swelling, pain, and limited movement of the joints.
Another condition that may require ankle fusion is rheumatoid arthritis where the patient's own immune system attacks the joints.
Any condition that destroys the joint surface, such as a severe bone infection, or death of bone tissue, called osteonecrosis may also require fusion of the ankle joint.
To begin the procedure, the surgeon will hold the foot down with straps to be able to see inside the joint space better.
Next, two tiny keyhole incisions will be made on the ankle.
A small tube called a cannula with a camera inside it, will be instered through one incision.
Surgical insturments will be insterted through the other incision.
The surgeon will use the srugical insturments to remove cartilage and dammaged bone from the bottom surface of the tibia.
This will also be done to the top surface of the talus.
After this, the surgeon will remove the arthroscopic tools and foot straps.
Then, two or three metal guide pins will be placed through the bones of the ankle joint.
The surgeon will use the guided pins to place hollow screws which hold the bones in place.
Finally the incisions wil be closed with sutures.
After ankle fusion the patient will no longer be able to move the ankle joint.
However, fusion removes the pain caused by arthritic surfaces rubbing together and other joints in the foot continue to allow limited movement.