Preparing For Orthopaedic Surgery: The Patient’s Perspective

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.,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.

Preparing For Orthopaedic Surgery: The Patient’s Perspective
Image Credit: Rheumatology Advisor 

“Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live in.” – Jim Rohn

Article Authors: Gordon Slater | Tandose Sambo 

Preparation for Orthopaedic Surgery 

While surgical procedures are often the path of last resort in orthopaedic treatments, for certain critical conditions, surgery will have to be the treatment option for effective long term health benefits to the patient. As a patient, in those instances where you are required to have a surgical procedure in order to fully heal, preparation will be the key to your success. Anticipating the experience will enable better care and improve your confidence. 

As you get ready for your lifestyle change, it is always a good idea to engage with as many people as you can. In your consultations, it is always a good idea to carry someone with you, so that they can act on your behalf as a healthcare advocate. 

What to expect in your Surgical Consultation 

After preliminary analysis, your orthopaedic surgeon will identify that you are a candidate for orthopaedic surgery. It is a good idea for you to research your orthopaedic problem and have a discussion with your surgical team with respect to your course of treatment. There are few critical things that you and your orthopaedic team will need to know. These include: 

  1. Your medical history. Ensure that you have a good understanding of when your condition began and how it has progressed thus far. Make note of any critical treatments you have had. Document your condition and ensure that you have all the relevant X-rays, Images, Operative Notes from previous procedures, as well as lab tests. 
  2. Family History: There are some conditions that are genetically influenced, so ensure that they are noted. Allergies are important for you to note, so that appropriate medication can be prescribed during your treatment. 
  3. Current Medications: The surgical procedure will often require the utilization of anaesthetic. Anaesthetics can have adverse reactions with certain medications, so ensure that your team is aware of what prescriptions you are currently taking, so that the treatment will be effective. 

With the above information, relevant surgical planning will be optimized. 

Planning For Your Surgery 

Once all the surgical details have been discussed, there will be a date set for the actual surgery. Think positively about the experience, and imagine yourself as the healthier version of yourself once it’s completed. For the surgical procedure you will need: 

  • A primary contact person. This may be a spouse, family member or trusted friend. Some surgical procedures are conducted on the same day, and if you are anaesthetized, your primary contact will be able to ensure that you are taken home safely. 
  • Print copies of your current prescriptions, list of drug and food allergies and ensure the nurses are aware of your current conditions, so that the doctors and an aesthetician can be reminded before your surgery. 
  • Insurance documentation and any medical documentation critical to your treatment. 
  • Pack a hospital bag with essentials. Your hospital will let you know what you will need to carry with you. Carry items that will be critical to your hygiene during this time. 

Once all the details are finalized, your surgical date will be planned and scheduled. As the procedure date is approaching a few critical points will be discussed with you, just to ensure that everything is in order. You will then be asked to sign a consent form that indicates that you are in agreement with the planned surgical procedure. The surgery will then be conducted. 

What happens after your surgical procedure? 

After your surgical procedure is the recovery phase. You may or may not have to stay at the hospital for a prescribed interval. Your surgical team will identify what the appropriate time will be, and enable you to receive the care that you need. 

If you are in the hospital for a few days, ensure that you are being treated properly. Ensure that adequate standards are being maintained, so that you will not suffer from post-operative infections. Staff should ensure that they are clean prior to examining you. They should wash their hands prior to contact with you if you are going to be examined, or if your surgical site will be dressed. 

Understand your treatment cycles, and stay abreast of your medication timeline. Your doctors or nurses will be able to tell you what medications you are to receive, and as a result you can check to see if they are being administered as prescribed. Ensure that you only take medications that are administered at the hospital. Personal medications should be kept at home, in order to avoid confusion. 

At Home Care 

Once you are discharged from the hospital, ensure that you have someone to carry you home safely. If you are going to have surgical procedures such as distraction arthroplasty that impact your ability to be mobile, you can organize to ensure that you are at a central place in your home. If your home has multiple levels, it may be best to stay on the ground floor for a few days and then adjust as you heal and regain your strength. 

If you will require the use of a wheelchair, ensure that you have a proper tutorial before you start using the chair. 

Be careful with your hygiene. Talk to your surgeon about the best time to resume hot showers, as hot water can affect your blood pressure. Where you can, you can wipe down your body or take showers with cooler water. 

Understand your anticipated healing plan, including medication time frame and any plans for mobility. These can include the administration of physical therapy and return to normal activity. 


Prepared patients are generally the ones who receive the best from their orthopaedic surgical experiences. As you take the time to understand your treatment, and have a suitable health care plant, you will have a successful surgical experience. Your health is your wealth. 

Article Reference:

  1. Preparing for Orthopaedic Surgery:

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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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