With ankle arthroscopy, your doctor uses a thin, fiber-optic camera (also known as an arthroscope). This equipment magnifies the inside of your ankle and sends images to a video screen. An arthroscopy may be performed in order to:
- Reduce ankle pain
- Improve overall function of the ankle
Uses of Arthroscopy
The small incisions used during an arthroscopy mean that fewer problems—such as pain and infections—are encountered when compared with large incisions. Because it is minimally invasive, it can be performed on an outpatient basis. Many patients are able to recover more quickly with this method.
An arthroscopy is used for many different injuries and disorders that relate to the ankle joint. In fact, the number of conditions that can be helped with ankle arthroscopy are quickly growing.
Ankle impingement. Also known as athlete’s ankle due to how common it is in active patients, ankle impingement is characterized by inflamed bone or soft tissues. With arthroscopy, the inflamed areas can be shaved away.
Arthritis. For patients with ankle arthritis, an arthroscopy may be performed in order to complete ankle fusion.
Fractures. Arthroscopy can be used to look for cartilage injuries inside the ankle, and to help provide exact alignment of bone and cartilage during fracture repair surgery.
Infection. If an infection in the joint space is not treated by antibiotics alone, arthroscopic surgery can be done quickly in order to wash out the joint.
Instability. When ligaments become stretched due to previous injuries, the ankle can consistently feel like it is giving way. With arthroscopic techniques, the ligaments can be tightened. More specifically, the Broström procedure may be performed in order to repair ligaments on the lateral (outer) side of the ankle in cases of ankle instability. This procedure improves ankle mechanics and restores its full function while providing stability. Many patients who undergo this procedure find that they experience fewer ankle sprains, or even no ankle sprains.
Synovitis. Through injury and overuse, synovitis can occur. This results in the soft tissue lining of the ankle joint becoming inflamed. Through arthroscopy, the inflamed tissue can be removed with precision.
Unknown Conditions. If previous diagnostic methods have not shown a cause for symptoms, arthroscopy provides the doctor with a look into the joint for more information.
How It’s Done
Generally, two small incisions are made. These incisions are the entry sites for the arthroscopic camera and instruments. Sterile fluid is injected into the joint in order to expand it, making it easier to see inside. The incisions are closed with sutures after the procedure is complete. Often times, patients wear a special boot for a period of time after the surgery.
What To Expect
Some swelling and discomfort is common after surgery, but it is greatly reduced when compared to traditional surgery techniques. Your doctor will let you know when you can return to normal activities, but expect to wait a bit longer to be able to return to high-level sports. Physical therapy may be utilized in order to restore range of motion and strength to your ankle.