Arthroscopic Ankle Fusion (Arthrodesis)
An ankle joint fusion is needed when the ankle joint surfaces are destroyed and the option of an ankle joint replacement is not appropriate- usually this is the case for younger patients.
When there is no ankle joint deformity (i.e. the ankle remains well lined-up), the joint fusion procedure can be done through a fibreoptic scope without the need to open the joint. Instruments are used to clear the remainder of the damaged joint surfaces and the exposed underlying bone on both sides of the joint is abraded with a power burr.
Large-sized screws (3) are then placed across the joint space under X-ray control and tightened.This leaves only 5 small stab-type wounds and hence the amount of swelling and reaction about the ankle is minimal. Patients usually go home the same or next day.
A supportive 'moon' boot is used when walking for 6-8 weeks but does not need to be worn at other times. The reported fusion rates (i.e. the bone surfaces going on to join solidly) are over 90% and most fusions are solid by 3-4 months.