Ankle Fusion - Orange County
X-ray showing fusion of the patient's arthritic ankle joint with screws placed to achieve the correct position. Orange County, CA.
Patients may be candidates for ankle fusion in Orange County if they have severe ankle arthritis and conservative treatments have failed.
What are the goals of an ankle arthrodesis in Orange County?
The goal of ankle arthrodesis (ankle fusion) is to relieve pain and maintain or improve function for a patient with ankle arthritis. Ankle arthritis is degeneration of the cartilage that covers the ends of the bones that form the ankle joint. These bones are consist of the tibia, fibula, and talus. Pain is typically made worse with movement of the ankle joint. Our Foot and Ankle Surgeon / Podiatrist in Orange County can discuss ankle arthrodesis (fusion) at our Irvine, CA, Huntington Beach, CA, Newport Beach, CA, or Orange, CA offices.
What signs indicate an ankle fusion may be needed?
Patients may be candidates for ankle fusion in Orange County if they have severe ankle arthritis and more conservative treatments have failed. Many patients may find relief from the pain associated with ankle arthritis using:
Injections of steroids into the ankle joint
Modification or limitations of activity
Walking aids (such as a cane)
Specialty braces that stabilize the ankle and restrict its movement
Cushioned and specially contoured shoes
These treatments do not reverse ankle arthritis, but in many patients they may temporarily or permanently provide relief from pain. Non-operative treatments avoid the potential complications of surgery; however, if these measures fail to provide adequate pain relief or maintain function, the patient may be a candidate for ankle fusion.
General Details of the Procedure
Patients are typically asleep or sedated in the operating room during the procedure and do not feel pain during the procedure. Incisions are made in and around the ankle to access the joint. Any remaining cartilage within the ankle joint is removed so that there is contact between the bony surfaces. The ankle is held in the most functional position with metal hardware. This allows the bones to heal together.
Ankle arthrodesis in Orange County may be performed through an incision on the outside of the ankle or the front of the ankle. Sometimes our Orange County Foot and Ankle Surgeon may use a bone graft to aid in fusion.
After the joint has been accessed, tools are used to scrape away remaining cartilage and the joint surface is prepared for fusion. Screws and/or plates may be used to hold the ankle in the correct position. In rare cases, pins and bars outside the skin are used to hold the ankle in position.
X-rays are used during surgery to check the alignment of the joint and the placement of hardware. The choice of approach and hardware depends on a patient’s specific anatomy, condition, and the foot and ankle surgeon’s preference. Incisions are closed with sutures or staples. Patients are often placed in splints, casts, or protective boots to protect the ankle following the surgery.
What happens after ankle fusion surgery in Orange County?
The tibia and talus require at least six to eight weeks before they are fused sufficiently to begin weightbearing. It may take as long as 10 to 12 weeks. During this time patients typically do not put weight on their operative leg. Patients typically use crutches, walkers, wheelchairs, or knee scooters to get around. It is helpful to have someone who can assist with basic tasks and activities at home, especially during the first two weeks.
Non-absorbable stitches or staples are typically removed around 14 days after surgery. During the first few weeks after surgery, swelling and pain may increase when the foot is below the heart for extended periods of time. Mild swelling and pain when the foot is below the heart for long periods of time may persist for months, but will gradually improve over time.
After sufficient time has passed, patients slowly begin placing weight on their ankle using a walking boot. Physical therapy will aid in this transition. X-rays may be obtained to confirm that the ankle is fusing well. After around 10 to 12 weeks, the ankle fusion is typically sturdy enough to allow the patient to begin walking out of the protective boot with a gradual return to the more strenuous activities Orange County has to offer.
Please contact our office in Irvine, Orange, Newport Beach, or Huntington Beach in Orange County, CA to make an appointment with our foot and ankle surgeon / podiatrist (Dr. Coyer) to discuss ankle fusion (arthrodesis) in Orange County in detail.