Ankle Replacement Surgery

Southeast Wisconsin’s Ankle Replacement Experts

Ankle replacement surgery – also referred to as total ankle replacement – eliminates the damaged parts of the three bones that make up the ankle joint and replaces them with artificial joint parts prosthetics that are used instead of your own bones. They come in different sizes to fit different-size people.

Some causes of damage include:

  • Arthritis caused by ankle surgery in the past
  • Bone fracture
  • Infection
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis

If you’re considering a replacement procedure, it’s a good idea to speak with an orthopedic surgeon for an expert opinion. At one of our convenient Milwaukee or Southeast Wisconsin orthopedic physician office locations, an ankle specialist┬ácan answer all of your questions and discuss next steps.

What You Can Expect During Ankle Replacement Surgery

The total ankle replacement procedure at Midwest Orthopedic Specialty Hospital may be performed while you are under general anesthesia. This means you will be asleep and pain-free. Or, you may have regional anesthesia. You will be awake but will not feel anything below your waist. If you have regional anesthesia, you will also be given medicine to help you relax during the ankle replacement operation.

Your ankle replacement surgeon will make a surgical cut in the front of your ankle to expose the ankle joint and then gently push the ankle tendons, nerves, and blood vessels to the side. After this:

  • Your ankle surgeon will remove the damaged bone.
  • He or she will prepare the bones that make up the ankle joint to accept the replacement:
    • The lower end of your shin bone (tibia)
    • The lower end of your smaller lower leg bone (fibula)
    • The top of your foot bone (talus) that the leg bones rest on
  • The parts of the new artificial joint are then attached to the cut bony surfaces. A special glue/bone cement may be used to hold them in place. Often, screws are also placed through the two leg bones (fibula and tibia) to help support the artificial ankle.

After putting the tendons back into place, the ankle replacement surgeon closes the opening with sutures (stitches). You may need to wear a brace for a while to keep the ankle from moving.

After Ankle Replacement Surgery

After replacement surgery, you will need to stay in the hospital overnight. Your ankle will be in a cast or a splint after surgery. To keep swelling down, keep your foot raised higher than your heart while you are sleeping or resting.

As part of recovery, your doctor may recommend physical therapy to teach you exercises that will help you move more easily.

A successful total ankle replacement will get rid of your pain and allow you to move your ankle up and down. Usually, total ankle replacements last 10 or more years. How long yours lasts will depend on your activity level, overall health and the amount of damage to your ankle joint before surgery.