Ankle arthroscopy

What is an ankle arthroscopy?

Ankle arthroscopy is better known as "keyhole surgery" and allows your surgeon to look inside your ankle joint through a camera inserted through a small hole in the skin. This allows treatment using specially designed surgical instruments. Ankle arthroscopy is normally carried out either as an investigative procedure for your surgeon to see inside your ankle or to remove soft tissue or bony spurs known as osteophytes which may be creating an impingement at the front or back of the ankle.

What does the keyhole surgery involve?

Ankle arthroscopy is usually performed under general anaesthetic as a day-case procedure. Two small cuts are made over the front of the ankle through which a small telescope and various instruments can be inserted into the ankle. Your surgeon will always have an in depth look around the inside of the joint and if appropriate they will remove any tissue which may be causing an impingement or repair any cartilage defect they deem necessary. After the surgery, your ankle will be wrapped in a bandage.

Ankle arthroscopy recovery

After the ankle arthroscopy, you will have a bandage around the ankle. For the first few weeks following the keyhole surgery you will need to elevate your foot as much as possible to reduce swelling. This will both make the foot more comfortable and help the wounds to heal.

At two weeks, the stitches will be removed, and you will be able to gently mobilise on the ankle. Your recovery will depend on the exact nature of the surgery performed, and it will take two to three months for all the swelling and stiffness to resolve.

What risks should I know about?

An ankle arthroscopy is a commonly performed and generally safe procedure but there are some potential complications you should be aware of.  These affect a very small percentage of patients.

  • Infection can occur although our theatres have ultra-clean air operating conditions keeping infection rates to the minimum.
  • Blood clots are possible after any operation and are more common in patients with some pre-existing medical conditions. However, again they affect a very small percentage of patients and have well established treatments including aspirin.
  • Very rarely, damage to the nerves around the ankle and foot leading to numbness, pain and in some cases weakness in the foot - this usually settles on its own. 
  • The ankle arthroscopy may fail/ not give rise to the intended benefits of reduced pain and increased mobility in the ankle

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