Ankle arthroscopy

What is an ankle arthroscopy?

An ankle arthroscopy is a procedure that involves making two or three small puncture wounds usually in front of the ankle. A small camera (arthroscope, three millimetres in diameter) is inserted into the ankle allowing the surgeon to see and operate inside the ankle joint. A number of different soft tissue and bony conditions can be treated arthroscopically.

Why should I have an ankle arthroscopy?

Ankle arthroscopy is often performed when an injury to the ankle fails to settle. Problems such as arthritis and inflammation can be helped with arthroscopy, and it can be used to repair damaged tissue and cartilage or remove loose bodies (small loose fragments of cartilage or bone). Among examples of pathologies necessitating an arthroscopy :

  • Ankle instability : Ligaments of the ankle become stretched out, which can lead to a feeling that the ankle gives way. These ligaments can be tightened with arthroscopic surgery techniques.
  • Ankle impingement (also referred to as athlete’s ankle or footballer’s ankle) : Ankle impingement occurs when bone or soft tissue at the front or the back of the ankle joint becomes inflamed. Symptoms include ankle pain and swelling. This can limit the ability to bend the ankle up or down. Arthroscopy is the best available technique to shave away inflamed tissues and bone spurs.
  • Loose bodies : Cartilage, bone and scar tissue can become free floating in the joint and form what is referred to as loose bodies. Loose bodies can be painful and can cause problems such as clicking and catching. Locking of the ankle joint may occur. Ankle arthroscopy is very efficient to find and remove the loose bodies.
  • Ankle fractures : Ankle arthroscopy is very helpful during open surgical techniques for fracture repair, to ensure normal alignment of bone and cartilage for good fracture reduction.

What happens after an ankle arthroscopy?

When you have recovered from the anaesthetic, you will be able to get up and walk with crutches. Most patients can go home on the same day as the surgery. There will be no plaster cast and driving is allowed one week after an ankle arthroscopy.