What is ankle fusion?
Ankle fusion, also known as arthrodesis, is a type of surgery that permanently joins the ankle bones together. It is often used on patients suffering from arthritis where the cartilage has worn away causing friction between the bones. This condition can be extremely painful and severely restrict mobility. Before having ankle fusion, your specialist will examine your ankle joint using imaging such as X-rays to plan the best placement for the screws and pins.
During surgery, any remaining cartilage between the bones is removed. The bones are then resurfaced using special tools to help them fuse together. Once the bones are aligned, they are fixed together using screws, plates or pins depending on the condition of the bone. Over time, the bones naturally grow towards each other and fuse together.
There are many types of ankle fusion surgery depending on the severity of the condition, and the procedure is either performed arthroscopically or with open surgery for more severe cases. The surgery helps improve painful symptoms and ankle stability, increases mobility and successfully restores quality of life.
General recovery times
Recovering from ankle fusion surgery can take up to 9 months depending on the severity of your condition and the extent of the surgery involved. You will stay in hospital for a few days after the procedure and when you leave your leg will be in protected in a cast. Weight-bearing activities are not advised for the first 8 weeks, and you will be provided with walking aids to help get around.
For the first 2 weeks you will need to keep your foot elevated to help with swelling and pain. Weight-bearing activities will need to be avoided for up to 8 weeks, and you should plan on a 12-week recovery period at home before returning to any sort of work. Physiotherapy is often recommended to maintain strength in the ankle and leg whilst recovering from surgery. It can take up to one year to make a full recovery.
Other ankle surgeries and procedures
Common ankle conditions
How much will my ankle surgery cost?
Understanding the cost of your treatment is an important consideration before committing to surgery, but it’s not always easy to find the information you need. Learn more about the factors which contribute to the cost of your surgery:
What will my treatment and recovery look like?
Familiarising yourself with your treatment program and understanding the recovery process are important steps to take on the pathway to surgery.