Ankle Replacement VS Ankle Fusion

Ankle Replacement VS Ankle Fusion

What is ankle replacement surgery?

Ankle replacement surgery is the replacement of a damaged ankle joint with an artificial implant.

The ankle joint (tibiotalar joint) is where your shinbone (tibia) rests on top of a bone of your foot, the talus.

Arthritis can affect this joint as well as other joints in the foot. Over time, the smooth cartilage on the surface of the bones wears away. This can result in pain, inflammation, and swelling of your joint.

Ankle replacement surgery is a procedure to replace this damaged joint to eliminate this pain and swelling. Typically, the procedure takes place under general anesthesia. Your surgeon will make an incision in your ankle to access the affected joint. Next, your surgeon will remove the damaged parts of your tibia and talus bones. Your surgeon will attach artificial metal joints to the remaining bone surfaces, with a piece of plastic inserted between them.

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What is ankle fusion?

Ankle fusion is a type of surgery to fuse the bones of your ankle into one piece. It’s also known as ankle arthrodesis. The surgery is usually done to treat arthritis in the ankle.

The ankle joint is also called the tibiotalar joint. It’s where the shinbone (tibia) rests on top of a bone of the foot called the talus. The ankle also includes the subtalar joint. This is where 2 foot bones called the talus and the calcaneus meet.

Arthritis can affect these 2 joints in the foot. Over time, the smooth cartilage on the surface of the bones wears away. This results in pain, inflammation, and swelling in your joint.

Ankle fusion is a surgery to fuse 2 or more bones in the ankle. This helps stop the pain and swelling. Your surgeon will make an incision in your ankle to work on the joint. He or she will then compress the bones together and attach them with plates, nails, screws, or other hardware. Your healthcare provider may also use a bone graft to help the bones heal together.

In some cases, an ankle fusion can be done with minimally invasive surgery. This uses a smaller incision and a tiny camera to help do the surgery.

The Difference Between Ankle Fusion and Ankle Replacement

Ankle fusion or ankle replacement may be recommended when end-stage arthritis is diagnosed, the ankle cartilage has worn away, and bone painfully rubs against bone.

Ankle fusion (arthrodesis) involves cleaning the worn out ankle joint and fusing the bones together with screws, plates and bone grafts. Ankle fusion relieves pain, but it also limits your ankle’s range of motion, Parekh explained. The limited mobility can change how you walk, and that can cause wear and tear, and ultimately painful arthritis, in other parts of your ankle, knee, and foot. Recovery is longer with ankle fusion than ankle replacement. Patients can spend up to 10 to 12 weeks in a cast. Because the ankle joint is locked in place, physical therapy is not part of the recovery process.

Ankle replacement is a newer option. The procedure, also known as ankle arthroplasty, replaces the arthritic ankle joint with a metal and plastic prosthesis. The recovery period is shorter than ankle fusion – typically three to six weeks in a cast followed by physical therapy. People regain a much wider range of motion; most return to active lifestyles. While the artificial ankle can wear out and may need to be replaced, research shows 90 percent are still functioning well 10 years after surgery.

10 common questions about Ankle Replacement VS Ankle Fusion

1Which is better ankle fusion or ankle replacement?
Ankle replacement tends to have more risks associated with it, however, than ankle fusion. And the results of this surgery may not last as long as ankle fusion for some people. But ankle replacement surgery does provide more mobility. In the right person, ankle replacement can be an excellent choice.
2How long do ankle replacements last?
How long will a total ankle replacement last? Ankle Replacement: The technology is still evolving, but we are hopeful to get at least 10-20 years out of the replacement. The more high-impact activities you do, the faster you go through the lifespan of the joint replacement.
3What is a ankle fusion?
Ankle fusion is a type of surgery to fuse the bones of your ankle into one piece. It's also known as ankle arthrodesis. The surgery is usually done to treat arthritis in the ankle. The ankle joint is also called the tibiotalar joint. It's where the shinbone (tibia) rests on top of a bone of the foot called the talus.
4Are ankle replacements successful?
Ankle replacement is a procedure that has been available for approximately 25 years. However, it has not been as successful as hip and knee replacement surgery. ... Current studies indicate about a 90 percent patient satisfaction rate in the first four years after surgery.
5Can you drive with a fused ankle?
Driving: ... If your right ankle/foot is the fused one, you are not able to use your right leg to push on the brake or accelerator and are thus not mechanically able to perform the functions associated with normal driving. You should be mechanically able to do the things needed to drive.
6How long are you in hospital after ankle fusion?
After ankle fusion surgery, most healthy patients remain in the hospital for two to three days.
7Who is a good candidate for ankle replacement?
The best candidate for an ankle replacement is a healthy person with ankle arthritis who has minimal or no deformity or malalignment of the ankle. In general, an ankle replacement will function best in patients who are less active and not overweight.
8Will I limp after ankle fusion?
Will I walk with a limp after ankle fusion? Ankle fusion will change how you walk. But with proper shoes, most patients do not limp. A fused ankle does not usually result in a fully rigid foot.
9Why would you need an ankle fusion?
Ankle fusion is a surgical procedure that's performed for the treatment of severe ankle arthritis. When ankle pain occurs because of arthritis, and non-surgical treatments fail to provide adequate relief, surgery may be considered.
10How soon can you walk after ankle fusion?
You should not walk on the foot for at least 2 weeks after surgery. Your surgeon or foot and ankle nurse will advise you when you can start taking some weight on it.

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