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Ankle Fusion Surgery

Ankle fusion surgery is often carried out to treat people who have arthritis or an ankle fracture, where the cartilage in the joint has become damaged. As the cartilage wears away, the space between the bones narrows and the bones begin to rub against each other. This causes pain, stiffness and, in some cases, deformity of the ankle joint. During ankle fusion surgery, the bones are permanently joined (fused) to stiffen them and prevent them causing further damage to each other.

What does surgery involve?

Surgery is normally carried out under a general anaesthetic (with an additional injection to numb the area around the operation site to reduce pain) and involves staying in hospital for 1-2 days.

Mr Heidari will remove any damaged cartilage and then permanently join (fuse) the two main bones of your ankle, the tibia and talus. If additional bone is needed, this can be taken from your hip area or using donor bone.

Before surgery

You can help improve the outcome of surgery by attending a pre-assessment screening where you’ll have blood tests to check for levels of Vitamin D and swabs to rule out infection or other problems. You’ll also be weighed and have an opportunity to discuss your medical history. This is important so that any anaesthetics problems can be identified.

Please note: it’s important to stop smoking at least eight weeks before your procedure; this is because smoking can affect the body’s ability to heal and causes health problems including an increased risk of blood clots forming in the lungs (pulmonary embolism) or calf (deep vein thrombosis).

What happens after surgery?

When you wake up after the procedure, your foot will be numb and pain free. You’ll have a plaster cast as high as your knee.

  • A member of our physiotherapy team will help you to stand, supported by crutches, and will give you a programme of exercises to follow to strengthen the muscles surrounding the fused joint
  • You’ll be given a follow-up appointment and, in most cases, painkillers to take for a few days

How can I speed up my recovery?

Making sure you stick to the exercise programme will help you to get back to your normal activities as quickly as possible. It can also help to keep weight off the foot as much as possible for the first few days and raise it above the level of your heart whenever you can to help reduce swelling. It’s also important to avoid smoking or taking anti-inflammatory painkillers as these can slow the healing process down.

You can find more information about recovering from ankle fusion surgery in our patient information leaflet, which can be downloaded from this website.