Ankle replacement

Arthritis is one of the most common conditions that lead to an ankle replacement. Whether it is osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis or arthritis from injury, the result is the wearing of the cartilage in the joint over time. This causes pain, inflammation and swelling, affecting daily life and making getting around difficult. It n be solved through joint surgery and may require a full ankle replacement.

What is Ankle Joint and Ankle Replacement Surgery?

If you have mild to moderate arthritis, other medications, physiotherapy, or steroid injections may be offered before surgery becomes the preferred option. However, surgical intervention such as ankle replacement may be advised if symptoms are severe enough to interfere with daily activities and other treatments have not improved symptoms. Ankle replacement surgery is an effective procedure most commonly performed on patients with advanced ankle osteoarthritis. An ankle replacement aims to eradicate persistent pain and preserve ankle mobility.

What Are The Signs and Symptoms I May Need This Surgery?

This procedure is usually only considered for patients with advanced arthritis or severe joint damage following trauma. Symptoms may include:

  • Severe pain
  • Inflammation
  • Stiffness
  • Difficulty walking

There are three main types of ankle arthritis: osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and general arthritis. If you have mild or moderate arthritis, your doctor will probably recommend other treatments, like pain medicines, special shoe and foot inserts, physical therapy, or corticosteroid injections. However, if you still have severe symptoms that interfere with your daily activities, your healthcare provider may recommend ankle replacement or another surgical procedure.

Ankle Replacement Surgery Explained

Ankle replacement surgery is performed under general anaesthetic and it may take a few hours; each operation differs slightly. First, an incision through the skin and muscle of the ankle and possibly another one on the foot is made. The damaged portions of your shinbone and talus will be removed, and the new metal joint surfaces will be attached into the pieces of the remaining bones. The surgeon may use a particular type of cement to hold them in place.

A piece of plastic is inserted between the new metal joint spaces to glide easily against each other. Finally, the layers of skin and muscle around the ankle and foot are closed using stitches. Patients can usually go home around 2-3 days following the surgery. There will be a lot of swelling, so patients will have to raise their legs to alleviate and reduce this. Patients will be advised how to use crutches and get follow-up physiotherapy appointments.

Risks of Ankle Replacement Surgery

Like with any other procedure, there are some (rare) risks. These include:

  • Pain
  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Scarring
  • Blood clots
  • Nerve damage
  • Damage to blood vessels
  • Slow healing of wound
  • Fracture
  • Failure of replacement
  • Continued discomfort

How Much Does Ankle Replacement Surgery Cost?

  1. When done privately in the UK, ankle replacement surgery can cost in the region of £14,000 – £24,000 depending on the type of prosthesis used.
  2. For procedures on the NHS, the waiting time is approximately 18 weeks but may well be longer.
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