Ankle Arthrodesis (Fusion)
Ankle arthrodesis is performed for patients with ankle arthritis which no longer responds to more conservative treatments or procedures. It can be done arthroscopically, if the ankle/foot position is not too deformed, or via an open operation, if deformity needs to be dealt with as well. The bones are held in position by two or more large screws which fix the ankle in position and compress the two bone surfaces together to encourage fusion.
Following surgery, patients will be placed into a half cast and asked to keep their leg elevated for the first two weeks. Patients will then be reviewed in clinic two weeks later to check that all wounds have healed and will be placed into a new, complete lightweight cast. Patients may be allowed to bear some weight at this stage but will still be using crutches to ensure that only a small amount of weight is placed on the operated ankle.
A further review will take place at six weeks and twelve weeks to ensure the fusion is progressing. After twelve weeks patients should be able to fully weight bear whilst wearing a splint.
The minimum time for fusion is three months and it can take longer before the ankle is completely comfortable. The best result is often obtained about a year post surgery.