Ankle Arthrodesis - Medical Negligence Lawyers

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What is ankle arthrodesis or ankle fusion

It is a type of surgery performed when a patient suffers from severe ankle pain due to osteoarthritis or degenerative arthritis of the ankle joint. The situation usually happens when a patient has sustained a serious ankle fracture that didn't heal right and instead degenerated into arthritis. The ankle joint does not function well after a fracture and the dysfunctional joint degenerates. It can take a number of years from the time of the injury to the time when the pain becomes too much to handle and an ankle arthrodesis is performed. If you have any concerns about your treatment, please use the helpline to speak to an ankle arthrodesis medical negligence lawyer at no cost and with no further obligation.

There are some people who haven't had an injury and yet still get a painful, degenerated ankle. These are people who have suffered from years of auto-immune rheumatoid arthritis.

What makes up the ankle joint?

It's made from three separate bones, including the tibia, the weight-bearing joint of the lower leg, the fibula, which is the thinner bone on the outer aspect of the lower leg, and the talus, which is inferior to both of the above bones. The ankle is capable of up and down motion and side to side motion, making it a very versatile joint. The talus itself is a hinge-like joint that allows for up and down motion.

The ankle also has multiple ligaments that are designed to hold the bones together. This is the job of ligaments. Tendons, on the other hand, connect a bone to a muscle. There are many tendons crisscrossing the ankle joint that add to the stability and strength of the ankle joint. For example, there is the Achilles tendon, which is the strongest tendon in the foot, located in the back of the ankle. It allows for plantar flexion of the ankle.

There is a smooth cartilage called articular cartilage that covers each bone at the articular surface. It allows for a smooth transition between the various movements of the ankle joint. The thickness of the cartilage generally decreases as the joint degenerates. The cartilaginous surfaces act as shock absorbers so that bone doesn't meet with bone.

Why have an ankle fusion?

At the point when ankle fusion is necessary, the cartilaginous surfaces have degenerated and bone is rubbing on bone. Screws or nails are inserted in such a way as to fuse the joint surfaces together. For example, the tibia is screwed so that it doesn't move against the talus. The end result is the actual fusion of the bones against one another. When the joint is immobile, it usually means it is less painful.

An option that is now available instead of the ankle arthrodesis is an artificial ankle joint. These have the potential to cause more complications than the ankle fusion but many people want to maintain some sort of mobility around the ankle. In young people, the ankle fusion is preferred because it leaves the joint strong. An artificial joint is considered a weaker alternative.

The joint arthrodesis of the ankle can be done using an open technique or an arthroscopic technique. In an open method, incisions are made through the skin to reveal the joint. The articular cartilage is sawed off the joint and the joint surfaces are fixed together. This process lets the joint surfaces heal naturally in a fixed position.


Most people who have a joint fusion have a successful outcome. Some have complications. Some complications include excessive bleeding at the site of the surgery. Infection can get into the wound during surgery and this can lead to a type of infection known as osteomyelitis. This is particularly difficult infection to treat because the bacteria are harbored within bones.

Other complications include ongoing pain and the need for further surgeries to reduce the pain.

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The author of the substantive medical writing on this website is Dr. Christine Traxler MD whose biography can be read here