Ankle osteoarthritis is a condition that causes pain and stiffness in the ankle joint. Traditional treatments like joint fusion can limit mobility. An alternative procedure called ankle distraction arthroplasty has been gaining some traction, but how well does it hold up in the long term? 

A recent study by Greenfield et al. (2019) investigated this very question. They conducted a survival analysis of ankle distraction arthroplasty for ankle osteoarthritis. Their findings suggest that this procedure may be a viable option for some patients. 

Key takeaways from the study: 

  • Ankle distraction arthroplasty showed promising results, with an 84% survival rate at 5 years. This is better than some previously reported outcomes. 
  • The study also identified factors that can influence the success of the procedure. Avascular necrosis of the talus (bone death) was associated with a lower survival rate. Additionally, sex may play a role, with the study suggesting potential gender differences in long-term outcomes. 

What this means for patients: 

Ankle distraction arthroplasty offers a potential option for preserving joint mobility in patients with ankle osteoarthritis. This study provides valuable data for surgeons and patients to consider when making treatment decisions. 

Important to note: 

  • This was a retrospective study, meaning researchers analyzed past data. More robust research designs are needed to confirm these findings. 
  • The study involved a relatively small group of patients. Larger studies are necessary to draw more definitive conclusions. 

Overall, this research suggests that ankle distraction arthroplasty may be a valuable tool for treating ankle osteoarthritis. However, more research is needed to solidify its place as a standard treatment option. 

ReferenceGreenfield, S., Matta, K. M., McCoy, T. H., Rozbruch, S. R., & Fragomen, A. (2019). Ankle distraction arthroplasty for ankle osteoarthritis: a survival analysis. Strategies in trauma and limb reconstruction, 14(2), 65. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7376580/#:~:text=In%20a%20significantly%20larger%20series,and%2037%25%20within%205%20years


This blog is for informational purposes only and should not be considered as medical advice. Always consult with a qualified healthcare professional to discuss your individual treatment options.

Everything You Need to Know About Ankle Fusion

An ankle fusion (ankle arthrodesis) is a type of surgery used to join two or more bones in your ankle. This surgery is performed to treat ankle arthritis or a severe deformity in it.

What to tell your health care provider?

Tell your healthcare provider all the medications you take. This includes over-the-counter medications, such as ibuprofen and aspirin. It also includes herbs and vitamins, among other supplements. Also, notify your doctor if:

  • You have had recent changes in your health, such as an infection or fever.
  • You have sensitivity or allergy to any medication, latex, tape or anesthetic medications (either for local anesthesia or general anesthesia)
  • You are pregnant or unsure if you are or not.

The day of surgery

An orthopedic surgeon will conduct your ankle fusion. He is a surgeon who specializes in treating problems with bones, muscles, joints, and tendons. Surgery can be done in different ways. Consult your surgeon about the details of your surgery. Preparation and surgery can take a couple of hours.

During your surgery:

Control visits

After your surgery, you will probably need to wear a splint for a couple of weeks. You may also need to use crutches for several weeks. You will be instructed by your surgeon to move your ankle and foot while recovering. You will not be able to support your full weight on that foot for several months. You may need help at home at this stage.

You may have a splint replaced by a cast a couple of weeks after surgery. You may have to do physical therapy for a few months. That is to help you regain strength and range of movement in your ankle.

To achieve optimal recovery, be sure to follow all the instructions your surgeon gives you about your medications, how to take care of your wound, and the exercises you should do. That will help ensure that the merger is a success. If you have any questions or concerns, call your surgeon’s office.

Call your healthcare provider immediately if you notice any of the following symptoms:

  • Chest pain or trouble breathing
  • Fever of 100.4 ° F or higher, as directed by the health care provider
  • The splint or cast appears too tight or too loose
  • The splint, cast, or ankle bandage becomes wet or pasty
  • Discoloration or pale skin color
  • Numbness or tingling near or under the cast or foo
  • The foot or toes look pale or bluish or feel cold when touched
  • Pain that worsens with or without activity
  • Calf pain that feels warm to the touch and tender if pressed
  • Increased redness, tenderness, bleeding or swelling of the wound
  • Suppuration leaving the wound, or opening the wound
  • Swelling of the foot, ankle or calf that is not relieved by raising the foot
  • Other signs or symptoms as directed by your health care provider 

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Dr. Gordon Slater

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.

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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.

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