Ankle joint replacement

What is it?

Ankle replacement is a surgical procedure to remove diseased or damaged parts of the ankle and replace them with an artificial joint. A joint replacement may be needed if other treatments do not control the pain.

Diagnosis and treatment options

Your consultant will examine you and ask you to demonstrate certain movements to check how well your ankle is working. You might need some additional tests, which will be fully discussed with you during your appointment. This could include:

  • X-ray
  • CT scan
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan

You may need joint replacement surgery if you have the following symptoms:

  • Severe ankle osteoarthritis
  • Pain in the ankle even when relaxing
  • Extreme bone fracture
  • Severe infection

During surgery, your consultant will make an incision over the front of your ankle and the worn joint surfaces are cut away and replaced with pieces of metal with a piece of hard plastic between them. This reduces pain and increases foot mobility and function.

The procedure is performed under either a spinal anaesthetic or general anaesthetic, which will depend upon your choice, your concurrent medical conditions and review by the consultant anaesthetist. It usually requires one or two nights stay in hospital. Recovery is dependent upon the underlying problem being addressed, but often requires a period of around six weeks in a below knee plaster or surgical boot.

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