Walter Morrison - ankle fusion surgery

Walter Morrison from Upminster had ankle fusion surgery at Spire Hartswood Hospital in Brentwood, Essex in September 2010. Walter Morrison is in his mid 70’s and lives with his wife in Upminster, Essex. Walter worked as a marine engineer and electrician before his retirement.

“I have no more pain, I am active again, I have my quality of life back."
Walter Morrison, Upminster, Essex

Walter had always enjoyed playing sports during his working life and continued to be active after he retired.

Walter continues: “I have played rugby, football, badminton, tennis as well as golf and belonged to a rambling society as I have always enjoyed walking.”

Despite being fit and healthy Walter did sustain sports injuries to his right foot and ankle on several occasions. However, Walter remembers one incident in particular: “I was riding my motorcycle home from work along the dock side. A fork lift truck had been parked with its forks facing out towards the road. As I rode past, the forks smashed into my right ankle and foot.”

The accident was serious and Walter sustained considerable injury to his right foot and ankle.  Walter explains: “I continued to be active in my life but I was now limited in what I could do.” Then quite suddenly in 2009 the pain got much worse.

“I could not walk to the end of my road which was only 100 metres. My quality of life wasn’t good. I went to my GP who prescribed painkillers but I didn’t want to take them long term and it was getting me down.”

In 2010 Walter’s GP, Dr Ian Humberstone at Cranham Village Surgery, suggested he considered other options including surgery. Walter didn’t want to wait for NHS treatment so Dr Humberstone referred him to consultant orthopaedic surgeon, Mr Krishna Vemulapalli, at Spire Hartswood Hospital.

“Mr Vemulapalli explained all the options to me including the advantages and disadvantages of ankle fusion and ankle replacement surgery. I decided that ankle fusion surgery was the best option for me, got a price, paid for the treatment myself and in less that a month I had the operation.”

Walter had ankle fusion surgery in September 2010 and stayed for one night at the hospital. He started his three month recovery programme which included six weeks with his leg in plaster from the foot to the knee along with fortnightly check-ups. This was followed by another six weeks in a removable cast whilst the ankle joints completed healing.

“The three months in plaster was a challenge but Mr Vemulapalli had told me what to expect so I was prepared for it. Once the plaster was removed I had a second cast put on which I could take off. This was much better and I gradually started to put some weight back on the foot. I couldn’t walk too far so I would walk around the house to exercise.”

Three months after the operation Walters’s bones had fused successfully and he had his cast removed. He continues: “It was great to get the cast off. As soon as I could I started to go for short walks. Mr Vemulapalli had advised me that the movement in my ankle would be limited now that the joints had been fused. I can tilt my foot side to side but back and forth is less mobile.”

However, Walter is very happy with the results: “I have no more pain, I am active again and that makes me happy. I do my physiotherapy exercises everyday; I’m going for walks and am now able to play 18 holes of golf again. I have even lost weight because I am mobile again which is great. I feel healthier and happier in myself and I feel I have my quality of life back. It was worth the inconvenience of the recovery period and there really was not that much pain.”

Walter has a clear message for anyone suffering similar problems: “Don’t put up with pain and a restricted life. Just ‘go for it’.”

The surgeon's view - comments from Mr Krishna Vemulapalli

"Walter suffered from ankle arthritis secondary to trauma. 

There are different types of  operative treatment for ankle arthritis namely ankle arthroscopy, ankle fusion and ankle replacement. Ankle arthroscopy is only indicated in very mild or early stages of the arthritis. Ankle fusion is a 'gold standard' treatment for young and active patients. Ankle replacement is a newer treatment coming into vogue and is indicated for older and less active patients."

Ankle replacement VS ankle fusion
"Advantages of ankle replacement are preservation of the ankle movements and reduction of ankle pain. Disadvantages of the replacement are that it is a newer procedure with no long term results ( unlike hip or knee replacement). It is not recommended in young patients and very active patients who participate in high impact activities.

Advantages of ankle fusion are that it's the 'gold standard' treatment for ankle arthritis pain in young and old. Disadvantages of ankle fusion are limitation of movements and secondary effects to other joints in the foot and ankle, which become prone to arthritis due to over-use.

Walter was eligible for both types of treatment, ankle replacement and ankle fusion. After careful consideration, Walter decided to opt for ankle fusion." 

Recovery from ankle fusion surgery
"After an ankle fusion operation the patient should expect to spend six weeks with a non-weight bearing plaster and six weeks with a removable weight bearing plaster. It is same time as for any lower limb fractures. The patient is followed up for 6-8 months."

Long term results
"As mentioned ankle fusion is a 'gold standard' type of treatment for ankle arthritis. Any other form of newer treatment is measured against the ankle fusion which is a tried and tested 'work horse' type of treatment for ankle arthritis. The long term result of ankle fusion is good but, with newer technology developing fast, ankle fusion is likely to be replaced by other treatments in the future. "

Find a treatment, test or scan available at:


Find a consultant

Use one or more of the options below to search for a consultant and link through to view their Spire profile.


Let us help you

fill out this form and we will get back to you:

Please select a hospital

We can call you

Please enter your details below and we will call you back.

What is the aim of your enquiry?

Please select a hospital

If we are unable to reach you by phone, please include your email address so that we can get in touch...

Mr Krishna Vemulapalli

Mr Krishna Vemulapalli consultant orthopaedic surgeon at Spire Hartswood Hospital performed Mr Morrison's ankle fusion surgery. Read more about Mr Vemulapalli

Mr Walter Morrison

Share your experiences

Walter is happy to talk to anyone considering ankle fusion surgery.

If you would like to talk to Walter or would like to share your experience of Spire Hartswood Hospital simply email us at:



© Spire Healthcare Group plc (2016)