What is an Ankle Replacement?
The ankle is where the bones of the lower leg and top of the foot meet. Used every time you walk, run, or even stand, this joint can wear and tear over the years. It is also prone to injury, particularly if bones and tendons are weak or cartilage is worn. If you have ankle pain and stiffness, or suffered an ankle injury that is not responding to non-surgical treatments, you may be a candidate for ANKLE REPLACEMENT surgery.
The ankle joint is comprised of three bones: the tibia (shin bone), the fibula (the small bone in the lower leg), and the talus (the bone that fits in between the tibia and fibula). The talus is a hinge bone that allows your foot to move up and down. The bones are held together on both sides of the ankle joint by ligaments. Tendons cross over the ankle, helping move the ankle and toes. The Achilles tendon, which is in the back of the ankle, connects the calf muscles to the heel bone, providing the power for walking, running, and jumping. Articular cartilage covers the bones inside the joint, enabling them to move smoothly.
During ankle replacement surgery, the ankle joint is replaced with a two or three-part prosthesis. An incision is made on the front or side of the ankle, depending upon the type of implant being used. The blood vessels, nerves, and tendons are carefully moved to the side. The surgeon then makes an incision in the joint capsule that encloses the ankle joint, opens the joint, and prepares the surfaces. The ends of the tibia and fibula are shaped to fit the metal socket of the prosthesis. Then the top of the talus is shaped to insert the new talus component. All of the pieces of the prosthesis are put in place and tested.