Ankle arthroscopy is done to diagnose and treat disorders affecting the ankle joint.
The surgery is minimally invasive and is performed by an orthopaedic surgeon. Arthroscopy may improve or correct the overall function of the ankle. The incisions made are small, which means a quicker recovery time for patients.
The Arthroscopic Procedure
- In most cases two small incisions are made on the ankle joint
- Saline (sterile salt water) is then pumped into the joint to expand it; this creates space for the arthroscope and other tools to be guided to the problem area
- The arthroscope once inserted into the ankle joint aids the surgeon in his investigation for any trauma, disease or degenerative changes
- Treatment is carried out through a second incision with specially designed medical tools
- The incisions are sutured once treatment has been completed. The ankle is then dressed
An Arthroscope is a slender telescope fitted with a lens system and fibreoptic illumination; it projects a magnified image of the inside of a joint onto a television monitor. The surgeon uses the arthroscope to see the structures of the ankle during the diagnostic or operating stage.
Ankle arthroscopy is recommended to patients whose ankle injuries/degenerative changes do not improve with non-surgical treatments. Arthroscopy can treat cartilage, bone, tendons and ligaments.
Ankle Arthroscopy Treats
- Arthritis in the ankle; to improve the articular surfaces, which can reduce pain and recover joint movement. It can also treat end-stage arthritis, with an ankle fusion surgery
- Fractures; helpful for bone or cartilage realignment after a fracture occurs. It is an invasive form of observation that allows the surgeon to examine the joint thoroughly
- Talotibial impingement; when the bone overgrows around the joint, causing the connective or bone tissue to become inflamed (athlete’s ankle). The affected tissue is removed to improve movement and treat pain
- Arthrofibrosis (scar tissue); often forms after an ankle injury. It may cause pain or stiffness in the joint. The surgeon identifies and removes the scar tissue during the procedure
- Ankle instability; caused when the ligaments supporting the ankle become stretched out. If left untreated, it leaves patients susceptible to twists
- Infection; in severe cases, infections can trigger degenerative arthritis. Arthroscopy allows the surgeon to wash out the joint. It is an urgent surgery that makes antibiotics more effective
- Loose bodies; can be cartilage, bone or scar tissue that float in the joint. They can cause pain, clicking, stiffness and in some cases the ankle joint to lock
- Osteochondral defect (OCD); a result of injury, OCD refers to areas of damaged bone and cartilage in the ankle joint. Treatment is determined based on the size and extent of the damage
- Synovitis; synovial tissue lining the ankle joint becomes inflamed. The probable causes including overuse, injury and arthritis
Operation and recovery times are affected by the severity of a patient’s condition and his/her overall health.