Trapper Lalli, M.D. Answers Questions On: Total Ankle Arthroplasty
What is the process for total ankle arthroplasty?
Total ankle replacement is performed under general anesthetics and may also utilize a nerve block for pain control postoperatively. A tourniquet is used at the time of surgery to control bleeding and improve visualization during the procedure. Approaching the ankle from the front, we cut the bone, allowing for placement of the metal and plastic components that recreate the ankle joint. We then close the wounds using stitches and apply a splint. A period of non-weight bearing in a cast is necessary to allow the implants to heal in place. After that period, the patient will begin physical therapy and walking in a boot.
Conservative managements for total ankle arthroplasty include anti-inflammatory medication, bracing, injections, physical therapy, and activity modification. Additionally, patients who should be considered for total ankle arthroplasty are those who do not want a fusion-type procedure, which eliminates motion at the ankle joint.
What are some complications of total ankle arthroplasty?
There are complications that relate to surgery in general. These include the risks associated with anesthesia, infection, damage to nerves and blood vessels, and bleeding or blood clots. The most common complication of total ankle arthroplasty is a fracture of the bone during surgery. Injury to tendons or nerves and blood vessels is also a possible complication of ankle replacement. Wound healing can be a problem for some patients. Infection is another worrisome complication and can range in severity, from minor to severe. Avoiding any and all of these complications is why it’s vital to have a specialist performing the procedure.