Total Ankle Replacement Surgery

Total Ankle Replacement Surgery

The basics of ankle replacement

Joint replacement surgery has been around for quite some time, but many people are unaware that joint replacements exist for the ankle. In recent years, ankle replacement surgery has advanced significantly and is a viable option for a growing number of patients. With the alternative to ankle replacement being ankle fusion, our Cypress orthopedist finds that it is an attractive option for many patients.

What is an ankle replacement?

During ankle replacement surgery, our Cypress orthopedist surgically removes a portion of the tibia and talus, the bones that make up the ankle joint, and places implants in them to create an artificial joint.

This procedure is reserved for severe cases of ankle arthritis. The surgery removes the arthritic changes to the ankle and the artificial joint allows patients to maintain or regain range of motion of the ankle. With ankle fusion surgery, range of motion to the ankle is completely eliminated.

Who is a candidate for ankle replacement?

While ankle replacement implants have improved greatly since their creation, our Cypress orthopedist considers a number of patient factors before deciding if someone is a good candidate for the procedure.

Ideally, patients should weigh no more than about 180 pounds. Patients who exceed the recommended weight may put too great a stress on the implant and cause early failure. Based on age and activity level, slightly heavier patients may still be surgical candidates, but very active patients may not be prime candidates for ankle replacement surgery.

Surgery is intended to increase the level of activity that a patient is able to tolerate. However, the more impact an ankle implant is subjected to, the earlier it is likely to fail.

Ankle replacements are also advised in older rather than younger patients. Medical literature reports approximately 22% of ankle replacement failures occur five years from the time of surgery and 44% of failures occur 10 years after surgery. Therefore, the later in life that someone undergoes ankle replacement surgery, the less likely additional surgery will be necessary.

Finally, some severe ankle deformities may damage the joint in such a way that ankle replacement surgery is not a viable option.

What happens if the ankle replacement implant fails?

Replacement components for an ankle replacement implant will likely become more prevalent at some point in time. However, failure of an implant component generally requires removal of the entire implant. Fortunately, upon implant removal, our Cypress orthopedist can still successfully perform an ankle fusion.

What is the recovery like after ankle replacement surgery?

Following surgery, patients are placed in a splint with a drain in the ankle. Patients spend a single night in the hospital for drain monitoring and pain control.

One to three weeks after surgery, patients transfer into a boot and begin early range of motion and physical therapy. A strict non-weight-bearing status is typically required for approximately six weeks. At the six week appointment with our Cypress orthopedist, assuming x-rays and surgical incisions are healing as expected, patients are typically allowed to fully bear weight as they tolerate.

Contact us to schedule an appointment with our Cypress orthopedist to learn how ankle replacement can get you moving again.

Specializing in

  • Sprains
  • Fractures
  • Ankle deformities
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Achilles tendon issues
  • Problems with ligaments and tendons
  • Rheumatoid and juvenile arthritis