What is ankle replacement surgery?
Ankle replacement surgery is the replacement of a damaged ankle joint with an artificial implant.
The ankle joint (tibiotalar joint) is where your shinbone (tibia) rests on top of a bone of your foot, the talus.
Arthritis can affect this joint as well as other joints in the foot. Over time, the smooth cartilage on the surface of the bones wears away. This can result in pain, inflammation, and swelling of your joint.
Ankle replacement surgery is a procedure to replace this damaged joint to eliminate this pain and swelling. Typically, the procedure takes place under general anesthesia. Your surgeon will make an incision in your ankle to access the affected joint. Next, your surgeon will remove the damaged parts of your tibia and talus bones. Your surgeon will attach artificial metal joints to the remaining bone surfaces, with a piece of plastic inserted between them.
Why might I need ankle replacement surgery?
Ankle replacement surgery may make sense for you if you have severe arthritis in your ankle. This can cause symptoms like severe pain, inflammation, and stiffness, which can lead to difficulty walking. The main types of ankle arthritis are:
- Osteoarthritis. This is “wear and tear” arthritis that develops in older adults.
- Rheumatoid arthritis. This is a system-wide autoimmune disease that affects the joints.
- Arthritis. This can happen because of a past injury of your joint.
What are the risks of ankle replacement surgery?
Ankle replacement surgery is very successful in most cases, but it does have some risks. These include:
- Damage to nearby nerves
- Blood clot
- The bones not joining together properly
- Misalignment of the bones
- New arthritis in neighboring joints
- Loosening of the artificial components, which might eventually need a follow-up surgery
- Wearing out of the components
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