Ankle arthroscopy is a minimally invasive surgical procedure, in which an arthroscope, a small, soft, flexible tube with a light and video camera at the end, is inserted into the ankle joint to evaluate and treat a various conditions.
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 screen monitor, allowing the surgeon to look for any damage, assess the type of injury, and repair the problem.
Ankle arthroscopy, also referred to as keyhole surgery or minimally invasive surgery, has proved to be highly effective in managing various ankle disorders, including ankle arthritis, unstable ankle, ankle fracture, osteochondral defects of the talus, infection and undiagnosed ankle pain.
The benefits of arthroscopy compared to the alternative, open ankle surgery, include:
- Smaller incisions
- Minimal soft tissue trauma
- Less pain
- Faster healing time
- Lower infection rate
- Less scarring
- Earlier mobilisation
- Shorter hospital stay
Your surgeon will make 2 or 3 small incisions around the ankle joint. Through one of the incisions, an arthroscope is inserted. Along with it, a sterile solution is pumped into the joint to expand the joint area and create room for the surgeon to work.
The larger image on the television monitor allows the surgeon to visualise the joint directly and determine the extent of damage so that it can be surgically treated. Surgical instruments will be inserted through the other tiny incisions to assess and treat the problem.
After the surgery, the instruments are removed, and the incisions are closed and covered with a bandage.
After the procedure, you will be taken to a recovery room. The ankle joint will be immobilised with a splint or cast. The nature and duration of immobilisation will depend on the type of repair performed and preference of the surgeon. The surgical site should be kept clean and dry during the healing process. Patients may be prescribed pain medication for the management of pain. Elevation of the ankle and ice application helps to reduce pain and swelling. Follow your postoperative instructions for the best outcome.
Risks and complications
Ankle arthroscopy is a safe procedure and the incidence of complications is low. However, as with any surgery, risks and complications can occur. Some associated risks with ankle surgery can include infection, damage to blood vessels or nerves, bleeding, and compartment syndrome.