Total ankle arthroplasty (total ankle replacement) is a surgical procedure used to relieve pain and restore movement to damaged ankle joints. During a total ankle replacement, the damaged ankle joint is surgically removed and replaced with an artificial replacement joint, which helps restore function and motion to the joint. Damage to the ankle joint is commonly caused by injury such as previous fracture or age-related degenerative conditions such as arthritis. These injuries tend to get worse over time and can cause severe pain, stiffness, limited range of motion and an eventual loss of function of the ankle. Ankle replacement surgery can be an effective treatment option for severely damaged ankle joints. While it is difficult to restore full function to the ankle, many patients are able to experience an improvement in ankle function after this procedure.
Candidates for Total Ankle Arthroplasty
Total ankle replacement is usually considered if the ankle joint is severely damaged. It may be an option after other methods of treatment have not been successful and the individual continues to experience pain and loss of movement. Ankle fusion is the the other surgical option for severe ankle arthritis. There are pros and cons of both procedures, and should be discussed in detail. In some cases, past ankle surgeries may cause arthritis in the ankle that can seriously damage the joint. The Wright Infinity and Inbone Total Ankle Systems are most commonly used, and utilize the Prophecy Preoperative Navigation Guides. Through the combination of computer imaging and the patients’s own CT scan, a customized plan can be developed for your own unique anatomy, in advance of your ankle replacement surgery.
Total Ankle Arthroplasty
The total ankle replacement procedure is performed while the patient is under general anesthesia to help minimize pain and discomfort. The surgeon makes an incision along the front of the ankle and removes the damaged bone and cartilage. The artificial replacement joint is then inserted and attached to the bones of the leg and foot. The incision is then closed and the ankle is usually put in a splint or cast to keep it stable. This procedure usually requires a short hospital stay, and a drain may be inserted to help drain blood from the ankle joint. Medication is administered to control pain.
Results of Total Ankle Arthroplasty
After a total ankle replacement procedure, most patients experience significant relief from pain, and movement of the ankle is restored. Physical therapy is an important party of the recovery process after a total ankle replacement. The goal of physical therapy is to restore full movement and mobility to the ankle and help the patient return to all usual activities. After the initial healing phase when patients can bear weight on the joint, a physical therapy regimen is implemented to strengthen muscles and increase mobility. Although it depends on the over all health of the patient, a total ankle replacement may last for 10 years or more.