What is a total ankle replacement?
Total ankle replacement, or total arthroplasty (TAA), is a surgical procedure of the foot and ankle used to treat severe ankle arthritis. It is recommended as a last resort when less invasive options fail to relieve your debilitating pain.
With proper care, TAA can help relieve your ankle pain and inflammation, while preserving the range of motion.
How does a total ankle replacement work?
During your total ankle replacement procedure, the surgeons at Ankle Arthritis Centers, who have completed extensive research and fellowships on this surgery, will remove your damaged ankle joint and replace it with an implant that can give you the range of motion you need to get around.
Your new, artificial joint will help relieve your ankle pain and inflammation without limiting your range of motion, much like your natural ankle joint before it was impacted by arthritis.
When your total ankle replacement is implanted properly, your normal gait and ability to walk should return to normal within a year.
Why would I need a total ankle replacement?
TAA is recommended as a last resort if your ankle arthritis continues to worsen, despite undergoing less invasive treatments like:
- Ankle brace or boot
- Physical therapy
- Anti-inflammatory pain relievers
- Steroid injections
- Exercise modifications
Ankle joint replacement or arthroplasty is emerging as an healthy alternative to fusion in the surgical treatment of severe ankle arthritis. Restoring normal ankle joint function through a replacement can result in a reduction of pain and lead to a more normal gait cycle. This allows patients to recover faster and get back to the golf course. Unlike the knee and hip, which are prone to develop primary osteoarthritis, the ankle usually develops arthritis because of a traumatic event such as a fracture or long-standing instability due to a severe ankle sprain.
The primary indications for a total ankle replacement are primary osteoarthritis, post-traumatic arthritis as well as rheumatoid arthritis in those patients who have failed conservative treatment.
Studies are demonstrating that the results of ankle replacement are very good and the outcome from a functional standpoint, are actually better than a fusion. With a fusion, the ankle joint is welded together and the up and downward motion is lost. An implant will allow that motion to continue and will lead to better function of the joint. This movement is important for walking, exercising as well as routine activities of daily living.
Patient selection is critical with respect to the overall success and long-term longevity of a total ankle replacement. The surgeon must take into account the age of the patient, weight, activity level, quality of bone as well as co-existing deformities when considering an ankle replacement. Not all patients with arthritis of the ankle are candidates for an implant and a different type of procedure may be a better option. All possible treatments for ankle arthritis can be explored in a thorough office consultation with our surgeons.
Our fellowship trained specialists have extensive experience with total ankle replacements being involved in hundreds of cases over the last 16 years including revising implants that have been placed by other surgeons. Furthermore, our surgeons have implanted more total ankles than any other surgeons in their respected region with excellent results to date. It is very important to find a surgeon who has extensive experience in this complex surgery. Studies have shown that surgeons who have not performed many ankle replacements, do not have as good outcomes compared to those who have extensive experience. We also attempts to provide our patients with patient-specific implant technology when possible, which allows for a more efficient operation and potentially a higher success rate. Both Dr. Cottom and Dr. McAlister and their respected teams are always training physicians from around the country on the techniques and latest technology of total ankle replacements, which allows them to stay up-to-date on all of the latest research. In addition, both surgeons have published extensively in both peer reviewed journals and have authored book chapters on ankle replacement. We take great pride in our research on ankle arthritis and our contribution to the medical community on this complex situation and that fact that we are actually writing and publishing research and not just reading it!!
Patients no longer have to live with debilitating pain due to ankle arthritis and in select patients, a total ankle replacement may be an excellent option.