What is Arthrodesis?
Ankle fusion is also commonly known as Arthrodesis. The goal of ankle arthrodesis is to relieve pain and maintain or improve function for a patient with ankle arthritis (a degeneration of the cartilage that covers the ends of the bones that form the ankle joint). These bones are the tibia, fibula and talus. The goal of ankle arthrodesis is to take the ankle bones and fuse them into one bone. While this eliminates some of the range of motion, it also reduces pain from the arthritic joint.
Range of Motion After Ankle Fusion
Who Can Benefit From Ankle Fusion?
Potential candidates for arthrodesis include patients who suffer from severe ankle arthritis and have not benefited by previous conservative treatments.
What Type of Deformities Can be Corrected?
There are no limitations on the degree of deformity that may be corrected by ankle fusion.
Bilateral Ankle Fusion
Generally, though not always, a bilateral ankle fusion is a disabling combination which may make it difficult to perform certain tasks, such as rising from a chair. If definitive treatment is required for both sides, then the options are bilateral replacements or one replacement and one fusion.
What Happens After the Procedure?
After undergoing an ankle fusion, you’ll spend 1-2 days in hospital. Post-surgery, you’ll need to remain non-weight bearing for six weeks in a range of motion boot. This will stabilise the ankle joint during the rehabilitation period. You’ll need to wear this for twelve weeks after surgery. Crutches or a rehabilitation aid such as a knee scooter, will also need to be organised before surgery.
You should expect some pain and swelling following surgery which will be alleviated by oral medication. You will also need to keep your leg elevated.
You will likely be examined at 1 week, 4 weeks, 6 weeks and 12 weeks, 6 months and 1year post-operatively. After the first six weeks, you may be able to begin weight bearing in the boot, though you will continue to wear this for another six weeks.
Dr Gordon Slater is a highly-skilled surgeon specialising in foot and ankle conditions and sports injuries. Dr Slater is one of the first foot and ankle surgeons in Australia to adopt minimally invasive surgical techniques. He routinely uses MIS to treat a range of conditions, including bunions. MIS has many advantages including shorter operating times, reduced post-operative pain, reduced risk of infection, minimal scarring and better cosmetic outcomes.