What is ankle arthroscopy?
An ankle arthroscopy involves a miniature telescope inserted into the foot to allow your surgeon consultant to make a diagnosis and (if necessary) to accurately perform ankle surgery.
If you are suffering from a torn cartilage, ligament damage or arthritis, an ankle arthroscopy allows your surgeon to diagnose and treat common ankle problems such as these without needing to make a large cut in the skin. Your surgeon will be able to see inside your ankle using a camera inserted through small cuts in the skin during ankle surgery. They may be able to treat some of these problems using special surgical instruments, without having to make a larger cut.
What are the benefits of ankle arthroscopy surgery?
The main benefit of this ankle surgery is being able to confirm exactly what the problem is, and in many cases, treat the problem at the same time. After ankle arthroscopy surgery you should feel less pain and recover more quickly.
What will happen during my ankle arthroscopy consultation?
When you meet with your consultant surgeon they'll ensure that you have the opportunity to ask any questions you may have about your ankle arthroscopy, they'll discuss with you what'll happen before, during and after the procedure and any pain you might have. Take this time with your consultant surgeon to ensure your mind is put at rest.
What alternatives are there to ankle arthroscopy?
Physiotherapy may help your ankle, but a torn cartilage does not usually heal on its own without treatment. If you have a torn cartilage the tear can occasionally move out of place and cause your ankle to lock. If your ankle does not unlock on its own, you will need an urgent arthroscopy. Your surgeon will discuss with you if you require this surgery.
What will happen during surgery?
The ankle arthroscopy operation usually takes around 30-45 minutes under anaesthetic. Your surgeon will examine your ankle ligaments while your muscles are relaxed. They will then insert a special camera through one or more small cuts on the front or side of your ankle and examine the inside of your ankle for damage to the cartilages, joint surfaces and ligaments. They will wash out any loose material caused by wear of the joint surfaces. Your surgeon should be able to trim or repair a torn cartilage without needing to make a larger cut. Your surgeon will finish by closing the skin with stitches or sticky strips.
For more information, and if you have any queries about the procedure, speak to your consultant. Continue your normal medication unless you are told otherwise.
These lifestyle changes can help make the operation a success:
- Giving up smoking
- Exercising regularly. Your GP can recommend exercises.
- Bleeding after surgery
- Some pain is common with most operations
- Developing a lump under the wound after surgery. This is caused by bleeding under the skin and should settle after a few weeks
- Infection in the ankle joint, which is rare, but will usually require further surgery
- Severe pain, stiffness and loss of the use of your ankle, which is rare.
This is not a definitive list and symptoms will vary with each patient. Please ask your consultant for more information.
How soon will I recover?
You should be able to go home on the same day as the operation, however your surgeon may recommend you stay a little longer.
You will have a bandage on your ankle for two to three days, and it is common for the ankle to feel slightly swollen for a few weeks after surgery. You may need to have stitches removed. Walking can be uncomfortable and you may have to use crutches. You may need painkillers and your physiotherapist will show you exercises to help you regain your muscle strength. Remember, you won’t be able to drive home after an arthroscopy.
You should make a good recovery and your surgeon or physiotherapist will advise as to when you can resume normal activities. Occasionally further cartilage tears do happen. If you have a large piece of torn cartilage removed, there’s a small risk of developing arthritis of the ankle.