Fusion Procedures

Joint fusion surgery at Midwest Orthopedic Specialty Hospital can reduce pain in your ankles, feet, hands or wrists. Also called arthrodesis, this procedure fuses the ends of two bones that meet at your joint, which eliminates the joint and eases discomfort.

If conservative treatments such as pain management and orthopedic rehabilitation haven’t brought lasting relief from symptoms of arthritis or poorly healed bone fractures, fusion surgery may help you feel like yourself again.

What to Expect from Fusion Surgery

Before your procedure, you’ll receive anesthesia to prevent pain and anxiety. Your skilled surgeon at Midwest Orthopedic Specialty Hospital will then remove the worn, damaged cartilage that forms a cushion between bones that meet at your painful joint. A bone graft or screws and metal plates will hold the ends of your bones in place and help them fuse.

Ask your doctor if you qualify for the minimally invasive arthroscopic approach to fusion surgery, which leads to less postoperative discomfort and a faster recovery.

After your procedure, you’ll wear a cast to keep your bones in place as they heal. If you got surgery on your foot or ankle, you’ll use crutches to keep weight off the foot as it heals. No matter what joint was fused, orthopedic rehabilitation will help you regain strength and flexibility as you recover.

Learn more about specific types of fusion procedures below:

  • Ankle Fusion

    If you’re suffering from osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis and conservative treatment isn’t working for you, an orthopedic surgeon might suggest ankle arthrodesis. It is otherwise known as joint fusion and is basically the elimination of a joint.

    Your surgeon can help determine if you are a good candidate for ankle arthrodesis surgery through a combination of reviewing your history, a physical examination, diagnostic imaging tests and an assessment of your goals. If you are a candidate for ankle arthrodesis surgery and choose to go through with it, you will likely achieve a significant decline in ankle pain, improved stability and alignment.

    What Happens During Ankle Artrhodesis Surgery?

    There are several different methods with which to perform ankle arthrodesis surgery. But the main procedure is always the same—the ankle cartilage is removed and the ankle bone surfaces heal by joining together as in the way a fracture heals. Ankle fusion surgery can be done either via a traditional “open” method or a less-invasive arthroscopic approach.

    After Arthrodesis of the Ankle

    Recovery time depends on the joint problem and how much surgery was required. Naturally, recovery from ankle arthrodesis surgery also varies significantly from patient to patient. Typically, your doctor will recommend not bearing weight on the ankle, so you will begin with a padded cast replaced by a short cast after two weeks. You will need crutches until you no longer have a cast. Once your cast is removed, your doctor and physical therapist will recommend a program of exercise to rebuild muscular strength, balance and flexibility.

  • Foot Fusion

    Foot arthrodesis fuses troublesome joints so there is no longer movement or pain there. Foot arthrodesis is done when conservative treatments for arthritis, poorly healed foot fractures, foot arthritis, infections or developmental issues have failed and severe joint deformity is present.

    Types of Foot Arthrodesis

    Foot arthrodesis can be done under general or regional anesthesia. Based on your specific condition, including location of the damaged joint, your surgeon will choose either open foot arthrodesis or arthroscopic (minimally invasive) foot arthrodesis based on the specifics of your foot anatomy and condition.

    What Happens During a Foot Arthrodesis Procedure

    An open foot arthrodesis procedure uses an incision and direct visualization of the joint. Arthroscopic foot arthrodesis is done using tiny incisions, a thin arthroscope with a tiny camera attached to a television to guide your surgeon as he or she inserts thin instruments into the joint.

    To complete your foot arthrodesis, your surgeon will usually use screws possibly combined with a plate to hold the bones together and encourage fusion.

    After Your Foot Arthrodesis

    The good news is that approximately 80 percent of foot arthrodesis patients will experience pain relief and be able to wear regular shoes. However, some foot arthrodesis patients will need special footwear. It can take up to four months for your foot arthrodesis to fully heal, in which time you will be in a cast.

  • Spinal Fusion (Sacroiliac Fusion)

    If you’re among the millions of Americans who feel back pain due to conditions such as disc degeneration, spinal stenosis or fractured vertebrae, spinal fusion surgery from the spine specialists at Midwest Orthopedic Specialty Services can offer relief.

    The Sacroiliac (SI) Joint bridges the sacrum and iliac bone in the pelvis, just below the lumbar spine. The joint acts as a “shock absorber” for lower body movements such as walking, but if the joint has loosened and experiences instability, significant lower back pain can result.

    SI joint issues may be due to injury, pregnancy, scoliosis, previous spinal fusion, unequal lengths of legs or arthritis. To stabilize the joint, spinal fusion may be in order if nonsurgical options have not been effective. The successful outcome is a reduction or elimination of pain at the site of the joint.

    Learn more about spinal surgery.

  • Wrist Fusion

    A wrist fusion eliminates all movement at the wrist joint by securing the bones of the forearm to the bones in the wrist and hand. A fusion provides reliable relief of pain from wrist arthritis, but the loss of motion can prevent some normal activities.