Ankle Arthrodesis

Ankle arthrodesis is a surgery that fuses together the bones that make up the ankle joint. It is performed when you have severe, lasting ankle pain or an ankle deformity. This can happen if you have had a severe break (fracture) that has not healed properly or if you have arthritis, an infection in the joint, or a bone defect.

LET YOUR CAREGIVER KNOW ABOUT:

  • Allergies you have to food or medicine.

  • Medicines you take, including vitamins, herbs, eye drops, over-the-counter medicines, and creams.

  • Steroids that you use (by mouth or creams).

  • Previous problems you have had with numbing medicines.

  • Bleeding problems or blood clots that you have had.

  • Previous surgeries that you have had.

  • Other health problems you have had, including diabetes and kidney problems.

  • The possibility of you being pregnant, if this applies.

  • Any complications you or members of your family have had with the use of anesthetics.

RISKS AND COMPLICATIONS

  • Infection.

  • Bleeding.

  • Failure to heal properly.

BEFORE THE PROCEDURE

  • Stop smoking if you smoke. Stopping smoking will improve the rate of your recovery after surgery and decrease your risk of infection.

  • Blood tests may be performed to make sure your blood clots normally. You may have to stop taking blood thinners (anticoagulants), aspirin, or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

  • Do not eat or drink anything at least 8 hours before the surgery.

  • Talk to your caregiver about when to resume taking your regular medications, such as medicine for high blood pressure or high cholesterol.

PROCEDURE

  • An intravenous (IV) access tube is put into one of your veins to give you fluids and medicines.

  • You will receive medicines to relax you (sedatives).

  • You will be given either a medicine that numbs you from the waist down (spinal anesthetic) or medicine that makes you sleep (general anesthetic).

There are a number of different surgical approaches to ankle arthrodesis. In general, the surgery requires 1 large incision (open procedure) or many small incisions (minimally invasive or arthroscopic technique) to access the joint. The surgeon will remove the cartilage surfaces of the ankle joint. Removing the cartilage will initiate bone-to-bone healing, just the way it would if the ankle had been broken. Generally, screws or plates are needed to hold the bones in their proper place.

AFTER THE PROCEDURE

  • You will wake up in a recovery room. You will have a splint or a padded plaster cast around your leg.

  • Your leg will be raised (elevated) to a level above your heart to prevent swelling and decrease pain.

  • You will receive pain medicines. Use them as instructed.

  • Your temperature, breathing rate, heart rate, blood pressure, and oxygen level (vital signs) will be monitored regularly.

  • You will usually be kept in the hospital or surgery center until you can:

  • Eat and drink without feeling sick to your stomach (nauseous) or throwing up (vomiting).

  • Urinate.

  • Safely use crutches or a walker.