What is Arthroscopy? : Keyhole Surgery and Your Orthopaedic Care

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.

Image Credit: Orthopaedic Medical Clinic – Clinica SANDALF 

“To ensure good health: eat lightly, breathe deeply, live moderately, cultivate cheerfulness, and maintain an interest in life.” – William Londen

Article Authors: Gordon Slater|Tandose Sambo

Orthopaedic care is administered according to the severity of the patient’s condition. In many acute cases, natural regenerative therapies such as physical therapy and banding of the affected area are applied. Within a few weeks these cases will heal, and normal activity can be resumed. More severe cases will require surgical care. An arthroscopy, or keyhole surgery is one method of treatment that is revolutionizing modern orthopaedic care. 

What is Arthroscopy?

As a surgical procedure that allows surgeons to see into the joint, arthroscopy is utilized by orthopaedic surgeons to visualize, diagnose and treat joint conditions. The surgical procedure involves the creation of a small incision in the patient’s skin. The orthopaedic surgeon will then insert an arthroscope. This instrument has the width of a pencil, and is narrow enough to navigate the internal area of the joint. The arthroscope is equipped with a small lens and light for greater visibility. Your orthopaedic surgeon will usually apply arthroscopy to your knees or ankle, in order to get a better understanding of the joint mechanics. 

More popularly known as keyhole surgery, arthroscopy is a minimally invasive surgical procedure that enables fast restorative treatments of some types of orthopaedic conditions. With a minimal point of entry, recovery times are often faster than alternate types of surgeries. Various patient conditions of the foot and ankle are treated by arthroscopy. These include: 

  • Torn Floating Cartilage
  • Torn Surface Cartilage
  • ACL Reconstruction 
  • Trimming Damaged Cartilage 
  • Loose bone fragments
  • Damaged or torn cartilage
  • Inflamed joint linings
  • Torn ligaments
  • Scarring within joints

Arthroscopy is proving to be more efficient than traditional surgery. Via the creation of two small incisions, treatments can readily be administered. Surgical success rates are increasing because the trauma to the connective tissue is significantly reduced via this procedure. From a cosmetic perspective, patients experience less scarring during recovery. 

With these added advantages, there are some similarities to traditional surgical procedures. Treatments via this procedure still utilize anaesthetics in order to ensure that the process is pain free as it is being conducted. 

After Surgery Side Effects

Arthroscopy is not an instantaneous fix for joint problems. There is an associated healing time. Fortunately, there are fewer in intensity than with traditional open surgeries. The risk of post surgical infections is reduced, because the incision area is small. Some patients will experience a decreased range of motion during the healing process. This is normal, and movement will be restored with physical therapy. Anaesthesia can induce clotting in the area as well. Appropriate sterilization of the area must be maintained, in order to minimize infections. 

Recovery Process 

Every patient’s recovery journey is different. Within a few weeks the small puncture wounds that are created during surgery will heal. Patients should take care to dress the incision points to protect them from infections. Daily activities can be resumed within a few days, and in the case of athletes, sporting activities can be resumed within a few weeks of the procedure. 

One of the best ways to identify if arthroscopy is suitable for your condition is to consult with your orthopaedic surgeon. With various treatment options for your condition, your orthopaedic surgeon will determine how best to restore you to the life you enjoy living. 


  1. Arthroscopy: https://www.orthopaedics.com.sg/treatments/orthopaedic-surgeries/arthroscopy/
  2. Mayo Clinic: https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/arthroscopy/about/pac-20392974

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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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