What is an arthroscopy of the ankle joint?
An arthroscopy of the ankle joint is an operation used to assess, diagnose and treat conditions that do not respond to physiotherapy, medication or other non-surgical approaches. Arthroscopy provides a quick, easy and clear image of the joint. There are two types of arthroscopy; the diagnostic arthroscopy to assess the joint and diagnose its pathology and the therapeutic arthroscopy to restore its damage. Usually these two operations are performed at the same time.
Why is it performed?
It is usually performed to alleviate and relief persistent pain, edema, bounce effect, movement inhibition or articular instability. Most arthroscopic surgeries of the ankle are performed between the ages of 20-60 years, although younger as well as older patients can be assisted by this method.
How is ankle arthroscopy performed?
Arthroscopy of the ankle is performed either under general anesthesia (the patient is asleep), or with dorsal or local anesthesia where the patient is awake. The procedure is usually brief if the injury is minor (about 30 minutes), but in more complex lesions it may last longer. Most patients stay overnight in the hospital or are discharged on the same day. During the procedure the patient is placed in prone position on the surgical bed. Two small cuts of a few millimeters in length are made on either side of the affected joint. These two small incisions allow the arthroscope to enter through a tube that fills the joint with sterile saline to extend the joint. When the problem is detected through the arthroscope, through the other incision or through one more incision of the same length, special tools to repair the injury are inserted into the joint. At the end of the arthroscopic intervention, the incisions are closed with simple sutures.
Common arthroscopic conditions are:
- Drainage of inflammatory synovial fluid and flushing of the joint.
- Removal of loose cartilage or bone particles.
- Repair of an injured cartilage or joint.
- Recovery of persistent leg pain after repeated injuries
What is the rehabilitation procedure after ankle arthroscopy?
Once the patient has recovered from the anesthesia, he/she is encouraged to be active and mobile, in order to avoid complications such as stiffness and deep vein thrombosis. Once mobilized without problems, on the same day or the day after surgery, the patient is discharged from hospital with a simple bandage, painkillers, gait assist crutches and no diet restrictions. For 6 weeks the patient will exercise to improve mobility and range of motion through physiotherapy and will gradually increase daily activities and walking distance. Return to work depends on the progress of recovery. Patients should expect continuous improvement for 6 months.
Are there any risks?
Although arthroscopy of the ankle is often performed without complications, it is very important for candidates to be aware of the benefits as well as the risks that may arise. Every surgery, no matter how specialized it is or how carefully it is performed, bears some risks.