Ankle arthroscopy is surgery that uses a tiny camera and surgical tools to examine or repair the tissues inside or around your ankle. The camera is called an arthroscope. The procedure allows the doctor to detect problems and make repairs to your ankle without making larger cuts in the skin and tissue. This means that you may have less pain and recover more quickly.
You will likely receive general anesthesia before this surgery. This means you will be asleep and unable to feel pain. Or, you may have regional anesthesia. Your leg and ankle area will be numbed so that you do not feel any pain. If you receive regional anesthesia, you will also be given medicine to make you very sleepy during the operation.
During the procedure, the surgeon does the following:
At the end of the surgery, the incisions will be closed with stitches and covered with a dressing (bandage). Most surgeons take pictures from the video monitor during the procedure to show you what they found and what repairs they made.
Your surgeon may need to do open surgery if there is a lot of damage. Open surgery means you will have a large incision so that the surgeon can get directly to your bones and tissues.
Arthroscopy may be recommended for these ankle problems:
Risks of general anesthesia are:
Risks of ankle arthroscopy are:
Tell your health care provider what medicines you are taking. This includes medicines, supplements, or herbs you bought without a prescription.
During the 2 weeks before your surgery:
On the day of surgery:
Arthroscopy uses small cuts in the skin. Compared to regular surgery, you may have:
The small cuts will heal quickly, and you may be able to resume your normal activities in a few days. However, if your doctor had to repair a lot of tissue in your ankle, it may take several weeks to heal. How quickly you heal depends on how complicated the surgery was.
You may be shown how to do gentle exercises as you heal. Or, your doctor may recommend that you see a physical therapist to help you regain the full use of your ankle.
Ishikawa S. Arthroscopy of the Foot and Ankle. In: Canale ST, Beaty JH, eds. Campbell's Operative Orthopaedics. 12th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Mosby; 2012:chap 50.
Miller M, Hart J. Surgical Principles. In DeLee, JC, Drez D Jr, Miller MD, eds. DeLee and Drez's Orthopaedic Sports Medicine. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2009:chap 2.
Updated by: C. Benjamin Ma, MD, Assistant Professor, Chief, Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service, UCSF Department of Orthopaedic Surgery. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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