Ankle joint replacement surgery is becoming more common these days. In this surgery, the damaged ankle bones of the patient are replaced with artificial components (prosthesis). This gives an improved range of motion to the ankle. Also relief from pain is achieved. The other name for this procedure is ankle arthroplasty.
Ankle joint replacement surgery is chosen as a treatment procedure only after proper examination of patient. The patient is admitted to hospital a day before surgery. Before surgery, general anesthesia is given to the patient. On the front side of the ankle, an incision is made. The tendons, skin, blood-vessels and nerves in the path are moved aside to reach ankle joint. The damaged bones and cartilages are then completely removed. Artificial joint parts are used to replace the top portion of foot bone (talus). The lower end of shin bone is also replaced with artificial components. The ends of the ankle bone are then reshaped. This is done to attach the metal parts of new artificial joint to it. They are fixed in proper position using special cement or glue. To ensure tightness between metal parts, a piece of plastic is kept in between. A small tube is attached to the ankle to drain out excessive fluid. Sutures are used to close the wound.
One night stay under hospital observation is recommended. Proper antibiotics are given to the patient to control pain after surgery. The ankle is placed in a brace or cast to avoid its movement. The draining tubes are removed in 1-2 days. While in rest or sleep, it is advised to raise foot higher than heart. This ensures less swelling at the site of surgery. In addition, physical therapy is also favored. These are helpful for proper movement and strength of ankle. The operated ankle is fully recovered in 2-3 months. The surgery lasts for a period of 10 years or more. However, it depends upon the overall health and severity of the condition.
The risks involved in surgically treating damaged ankle joint are:
- Breaking of bone
- Nerve or blood-vessel damage
- Artificial joint dislocation
- Unstable ankle