Arthrodesis is a surgical procedure which fuses the bones that form a joint, essentially eliminating the join. An ankle fusion is where the two sides of an arthritic ankle joint are fused together. This procedure is carried out to relieve the pain that usually occurs with movement of an arthritic joint. Usually when arthritis develops the affected joint has already become stiff, and therefore any loss of movement following ankle fusion surgery is minimal. Movement at the other joints in the foot will also usually compensate for any loss of movement in the fused joint allowing you to walk unhindered.
Ankle fusion surgery is performed under general anesthetic and, during the procedure, the nerves of the foot are blocked with local anaesthetic to help control pain. One incision is made over the ankle to remove the degenerative cartilage. This is followed by additional smaller incisions to place screws across the joint to hold it in place as it heals. Occasionally it may be possible to perform the entire operation through keyholes which is known as an arthroscopic arthrodesis.
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