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Recovery From Ankle Arthroscopy

How long does it take to recover ankle arthroscopy?

After surgery, painkillers are given to the patientAfter surgery, painkillers are given to the patient

After surgery, pain killers and antibiotics are administered. Patients are usually discharged between one and three days after surgery. Patients are encouraged to walk with support the same or the next day to prevent the formation of blood clots. Physical therapy may begin at the hospital, and the patient would be advised to continue the exercises at home. Pain, swelling, and bruising due to surgery reduce in two weeks. Most patients can resume their routine activities in 6 to 12 weeks. Recovery and joint strength continue to improve, and the time taken varies with the extent of disease and surgery. Complete recovery after surgery may even take 6 to 12 months, after which patients can resume all high-impact exercises and sports. 

What is ankle arthroscopy?

Ankle arthroscopy is a minimally invasive surgical procedure performed by an orthopedic surgeon. It is used to treat disease conditions of the ankle joint. Ankle arthroscopy is performed using a fiber-optic camera called an arthroscope. Arthroscope helps direct visualization of the structures within and around the ankle. It can magnify the structures of the ankle and transmit it to a display monitor. It is less invasive, the incision size is considerably smaller, and the recovery time is shorter than conventional surgical techniques.

When is ankle arthroscopy performed?

Ankle arthroscopy can be used as a diagnostic procedure and to also treat disorders of the ankle joint. Ankle arthroscopy may be indicated in the following conditions:

  • Ankle arthritis
  • Fractures of the ankle joint.
  • Ankle instabilities due to ligament and tendon injuries.
  • Ankle impingement following bone or soft tissue inflammation, limiting the range of motion of the ankle joint.
  • Arthrofibrosis (formation of scar tissue within the ankle) leading to joint stiffness and pain. 
  • Infection of the joint.
  • Loosening of cartilage, bone, or scar tissue which floats in the joint and is referred to as loose bodies.
  • Damaged cartilage and/or bone in the ankle joint due to injuries. 
  • Synovitis (inflammation of the lining of the ankle joint called synovial tissue).
  • Diagnosis of unexplained ankle symptoms.

When is ankle arthroscopy not performed?

There are no absolute contraindications for ankle arthroscopy, but when using arthroscopy as a surgical procedure, conventional approaches to the ankle may be preferred in the following cases: 

  • Patients with pathologic conditions who require wider exposure.
  • Revision surgery.
  • Patients who have undergone surgical procedures for fractures or other conditions in the past.
  • Patients with bony ankylosis.
  • Patients with rheumatoid arthritis
  • Patients with a BMI higher than 30 kg/m2.
  • Patients with severe contracture of the ankle (inability to fully extend the ankle).

How is minimally ankle arthroscopy performed?

Prior to surgery, the surgeon performs a complete physical assessment. X-ray, CT, and MRI of the joint are performed before surgery. The surgery is performed under general anesthesia. Multiple small incisions are made over the ankle joint through which the camera (arthroscope) and surgical instruments are inserted. The incision is then sutured (stitched) and dressed. 

What are the complications of ankle arthroscopy?

Some complications encountered are:

  • Osteolysis (inflammation leading to the destruction of the bone)
  • Infection 
  • Bleeding 
  • Formation of blood clots 
  • Bone necrosis (bone death)
  • Altered gait/limp
  • Dislocation or fracture of the joint
  • Fractures around the joint 
  • Reaction to anesthesia

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