Arthroscopic ankle surgery

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Ankle arthroscopy is a minimally invasive surgical procedure in which an instrument called an arthroscope is inserted into the ankle joint to examine and treat a variety of conditions. It can be used for both diagnosis and treatment.
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An arthroscope ready to be used in surgery.
An arthroscope is a small, fibre-optic instrument consisting of a lens, light source, and video camera. The camera projects an image of the inside of the joint onto a large monitor allowing the surgeon to look for any damage, assess the type of injury and repair the problem.
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Arthroscopy, also known as keyhole surgery or minimally invasive surgery, can be used to manage various ankle disorders including:
  • arthritis
  • unstable ankles
  • fractures
  • osteochondral defects of the talus (an injury to the cartilage and underlying bone of the talus)
  • infections
  • undiagnosed ankle pain.


Compared to the alternative, open ankle surgery, arthroscopy has a number of benefits, including:
  • smaller incisions
  • minimal soft tissue trauma
  • less pain
  • faster healing time
  • lower infection rate
  • less scarring
  • earlier mobilisation
  • shorter hospital stays.
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The surgery

Two small incisions (portals) are made around the ankle joint. The arthroscopic camera is inserted into one of the portals, and a sterile saline solution is pumped into the ankle joint. The inside of the ankle joint is viewed on the television screen, and the extent of the damage can be assessed.

Small instruments are inserted through the other portal to evaluate and treat the problem.

After the surgery, the instruments are removed, and the incisions are stitched closed and covered with dressings and a bandage.

Care after surgery

Depending on the type of arthroscopic surgery, most patients are allowed to bear weight straight away. The surgical incisions must be kept clean and dry to minimise the risk of infection.

Generally, patients are advised to rest and elevate the limb for the first 5–7 days in order to minimise swelling and pain. Follow your post-operative instructions for the best results.
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