Ankle replacement is an alternative to ankle fusion in patients who have end stage ankle arthritis. It is not as durable as ankle fusion and thus is best for older patients. It can be a good option for the older patient as it allows earlier weight bearing than fusion surgery.
Pain within the ankle (particularly pain disturbing sleep), reduced walking distance (less than 1km) and swelling are common presentations of ankle arthritis. A history of prior injury or ankle fracture is common in patients who develop ankle arthritis.
An incision is made over the front of the ankle to access the ankle joint. Custom jigs can be used to carefully resect the remaining joint to allow space for implantation of the replacement. The replacement consists of two metal components (tibia and talus) and an ultra hard wearing plastic bearing that articulates between the metal. The joint is then closed in layers over the replacement.