Ankle replacement surgery is an alternative to ankle fusion for the surgical treatment of osteoarthritis of the ankle. The aim of an ankle replacement is to improve pain whilst maintaining some ankle movement.
Ankle replacement surgery is carried out under general anaesthetic, and you will require at least one night in hospital. You would normally be admitted on the day of surgery. You will not be able to eat for eight hours prior to surgery although you will be able to drink small amounts of water up to four hours before.
The operation itself takes around 120 minutes. A cut is made in the front of your ankle, the arthritic bone removed, and ankle replacement inserted. The wound will then be closed with stitches and your ankle will be placed in a plaster cast.
You are likely to stay in hospital for one to two days after the surgery. Your physiotherapists will help you start mobilising, not placing any weight through the ankle using either crutches or a walking frame. After two weeks, you will be reviewed in the outpatient clinic and the plaster will be removed. At this point you will be able to start moving the ankle, and mobilising in a removable boot.
Ankle replacement surgery is a very successful operation but there are some potential complications you should be aware of. These only affect less than 4% of patients.
- Infection can occur although our theatres have ultra-clean air operating conditions keeping infection rates at 1-2%.
- Blood clots are possible in any major joint replacement surgery but again are in the 1-4% category and have well established treatments including aspirin.
- The ankle will remain very stiff following the operation.