Ankle arthroscopy

An ankle arthroscopy is a type of minimally invasive surgery that enables to surgeon to view and operate on the joint without having to make a big incision. Small incisions, roughly about one centimetre big, are made. An ankle arthroscopy is often done to clean the joint and remove any unwanted tissue, or it can be used for treating osteochondritis for example. It is normally done under general anaesthetic.

Why would you do it?

An ankle arthroscopy may be carried out due to one of the following problems:

  • Ankle pain
  • Ligament tears
  • Ankle impingement
  • Scar tissue
  • Arthritis
  • Cartilage injuries
  • Loose fragments.

What does it involve?

During the procedure the surgeon inserts an arthroscope into the ankle through a small cut. The arthroscope is connected to the monitor which allows the surgeon to see inside the ankle and see what tissues may be damaged (cartilage, bones, or tendons), and operate on them. This is done through several small cuts through which the arthroscope and surgical instruments are inserted. If the condition is very serious, open surgery will be considered. This type of surgery involves making a large incision to be able to see and access the damaged bones and tissues.  

How to prepare for it

The specialist will study the patient’s history and for two weeks before the surgery may request the patient to:  

  • Not take anticoagulants
  • Take prescribed medication the day of surgery

On the day of surgery, the patient should:

  • Not eat or drink before the procedure
  • Take any medication needed with a small sip of water.

Post-operative care

After the procedure, a week’s rest is recommended. Other recommendations include applying ice to prevent swelling. The patient may be given some physiotherapy exercises to follow or be recommended lymphatic drainage, among other techniques, to increase ankle movement.

Alternative treatments

An ankle arthroscopy is a relatively new treatment within the branch of ankle surgeries. There are other kinds of treatment available, such as open ankle surgery which is used to alleviate pain in the area. This technique is generally used if minimally invasive surgery cannot be performed. There is another technique known as percutaneous foot surgery, which is used for other foot conditions such as bone or soft tissue alterations.