Ankle arthroscopy is a keyhole ankle surgery or minimally invasive ankle surgery.
It involves making two very small incisions to gain access into the ankle joint under general or local anesthetic.
The ankle joint is relatively small and therefore the dimensions are temporarily increased for surgical access.
It is done using a combination of traction across the joint together with a flow of pressurized fluid circulating through the joint which distends it.
When Do You Require Ankle Arthroscopy?
Ankle arthroscopy is performed to diagnose and treat various ankle joint disorders.
- Ankle arthritis: Ankle fusion is appropriate for many patients with end-stage ankle arthritis. Ankle arthroscopy offers a minimally invasive way to perform ankle fusion.
- Ankle instability: Ligaments of the ankle can become stretched out, which can lead to a feeling that the ankle gives way. These ligaments can be tightened with arthroscopic surgery.
- Arthrofibrosis: Scar tissue can form within the ankle causing a painful and stiff joint. Ankle arthroscopy can be used to identify the scar tissue and remove it.
- Ankle fractures: Ankle arthroscopy is used along with open techniques of fracture repair. This can aid the normal alignment of bone and cartilage.
- Anterior ankle impingement (athlete’s ankle or footballer’s ankle): It occurs when bone or soft tissue at the front of the ankle joint becomes inflamed. This can limit the ability to bend the ankle up. Arthroscopy could shave away inflamed tissues and bone spurs.
- Loose bodies: Cartilage, bone and scar tissue can become free-floating in the joint that will cause problems such as pain, clicking and catching. Locking of the ankle joint also occurs. Ankle arthroscopy is used to find and remove the loose bodies.
- Infection: Infection in the joint space requires urgent surgery to wash out the joint.
- Posterior ankle impingement: It occurs when the soft tissue at the back of the ankle turns inflamed. Pointing the foot down can be painful and it can be associated with an extra bone called an s trigonum. This is common in dancers.
- Osteochondral defect (OCD): These are areas of damaged cartilage and bone in the ankle joint. They are caused by injuries to the ankle such as fractures and sprains. Surgery often consists of scraping away the damaged cartilage and drilling small holes in the bone to promote healing. Bone grafting and cartilage transplant procedures could also be performed.
- Unexplained ankle symptoms: Occasionally patients develop symptoms that cannot be explained by other diagnostic techniques. Arthroscopy provides the opportunity to look directly into the joint and helps in identifying the problems.
- Synovitis: The soft tissue lining of the ankle joint becomes inflamed. It may be caused by injury and overuse. Rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis can also cause synovitis. Ankle arthroscopy removes inflamed tissue that does not respond to nonsurgical treatment.