Ankle Arthroscopy

Introduction

Ankle arthroscopy is a surgical procedure allowing consultants to treat ankle problems. A small camera is inserted into the ankle joint, displaying an image on a television screen. The consultant uses these images to guide miniature surgical instruments to correct and repair the damage.

There are different types of ankle surgery and arthroscopy is applied in a variety of different ways to treat foot and ankle conditions. It can be used to diagnose problems by providing the surgeon with a clear image of all the joints and structures inside the foot and ankle.

Ankle arthroscopy may be used to perform the following:

  • Arthritic joint debridgement
    Osteoarthritis and injury can result in excessive scar tissue and diseased cartilage forming in the joint. Arthroscopy removes the diseased parts of the joint, along with any bone spurs or loose fragments of bone.
  • Arthroscopy following an injury
    Chronic ankle symptoms can arise following a sprain or injury. The ligaments can be torn and the cartilage can be damaged. This damage can be treated by arthroscopy. 
  • Footballer’s ankle
    A common problem for people involved in kicking sports – a large spur of bone at the front of the ankle can be painful when the foot is extended. The spur can be removed by arthroscopy.

Symptoms

  • Swelling or tenderness in the ankle
  • Pain in the ankle

Ankle arthroscopy is usually performed under general anaesthetic and the procedure can take between 30 – 45 minutes depending on the case and the severity of the ankle problem.

Several tiny incisions are made in the ankle, allowing a tiny camera to be inserted through one of the incisions and small surgical instruments to be inserted through the others.

The camera will project an image of the inside of the ankle joint on a screen and the surgeon will be able to examine the problems in the area and treat them accordingly.

Any damaged or diseased cartilage or bone spurs will be removed and repaired.

Following the procedure the incisions may be closed with stitches or steri-strips and the ankle may be bandaged.

After surgical treatment the patient will be encouraged to walk on the foot from the day of surgery. However, crutches may be needed to assist with walking in the initial days after surgery.

The wounds must be kept dry until the stitches are removed.

An exercise programme involving physiotherapy will be drawn up and it is to be started straight away. The patient should be able to return to work within a week following surgery. A full return to sport will usually be expected after six weeks following treatment.

Some swelling in the ankle may be apparent post treatment but this should settle down over the first few weeks.