Ankle arthroscopy

Keyhole surgery of the ankle

What is it

An ankle arthroscopy can be useful in patients who have a variety of painful ankle conditions. These include: painful clicking, instability, medium to long term post ankle sprain or fracture pain (only used once the acute sprain or fracture has settled), early arthritic change (with mechanical symptoms), ankle spurs, osteo-chondral defects, severe ankle stiffness.

Non-surgical options

(not applicable to this description of a surgical procedure)

Surgical options

The operation is carried out under general anaesthetic. Two small cuts are made over the front sides of the ankle and through these a camera and the instruments are introduced. These are used to examine and deal with the problem in the ankle. This usually involves removing loose soft tissue or bony defects. Pictures will be taken and retained in your medical notes to document the inside of the ankle. Local anaesthetic is injected in to the ankle joint at the end of the procedure to decrease postoperative pain. I will show you the pictures I have taken at your post-operative clinic visit to explain the problem and treatment given.

Risks of surgery

All surgical procedures carry some risk. These risks are usually rare, but can include infection, bleeding, damage to surrounding structures such as tendons or nerves, numbness, dysfunction of foot, ongoing pain, unsightly scar, painful scar, wound healing problems, swelling. There is also a risk that the procedure does not work fully and that the patient is left with some ongoing symptoms.

There are also some medical risks to surgery such as a clot in the leg (DVT), clot in the lung (pulmonary embolus or PE). The general anaesthetic has rare risks of problems such as heart attack, stroke, chest infection and in extremely rare circumstances, death.

Continuation of your original ankle symptoms.

What to expect after surgery

  • This will be done as a day case procedure under a general anaesthetic.
  • As explained above, local anaesthetic is used in the ankle to decrease post-operative discomfort.
  • The patient is discharged home from hospital on the day of the operation with painkillers to use as necessary.
  • The patient is usually permitted to mobilise fully weight-bearing on the ankle as pain allows, although there are some procedures done during an ankle arthroscopy which would require you to remain non weight-bearing for six weeks post operatively. This would be explained before your operation.

Expected recovery milestones

  • At two weeks you will be seen for a wound check.
  • Expected recovery time is three to six months.