All You Need to Know About Total Ankle Replacement Surgery
Before and after x-rays of a total ankle replacement (TAA)
What is a Total Ankle Replacement?
A total ankle replacement, also known as a total ankle arthroplasty (TAA), is a surgical treatment option for someone suffering from severe ankle arthritis. Ankle arthritis may be caused by an injury or wear and tear of the ankle joints. A total ankle replacement is performed by removing the worn-out ankle joint and replacing it with an artificial ankle. The artificial ankle is placed between the top of the shin bone (tibia) and the top of the ankle (talus). The overall goal of a total ankle replacement is to reduce the amount of pain someone has, while also maintaining a full range of motion in the ankle joint.
How is a Total Ankle Replacement Surgery Performed?
A total ankle replacement surgery is normally performed while a patient is under general anesthetic or a nerve block. Additionally, a tourniquet is used to help stabilize the ankle and reduce the amount of bleeding that may occur. During a total ankle replacement surgery, a foot and ankle surgeon removes the damaged ankle bone by cutting it out. After the previous ankle joint has been removed, the new ankle implant is inserted.
When Should a Total Ankle Replacement be Considered?
A person should consider a total ankle replacement when all other conservative treatment options have been exhausted. Some of these conservative treatments may include physical therapy, anti-inflammatory medications, bracing, injections and the limitation of certain physical activities.
What are the Risks Associated with a Total Ankle Replacement Surgery?
As with all surgery, there are risks, including:
- Complications – As with any operation, there is always a chance complication may occur.
- Infection – Although rare, an infection related to the joint replacement surgery can happen.
- Loosening of the artificial joint – The mechanics used in the artificial joint may loosen over time.
- Nerve injury – Due to the close proximity of nerves in the ankle, an injury to the nerves can occur, but is not likely.
Who is a Good Candidate for Total Ankle Replacement Surgery?
The best candidate for ankle replacement surgery is someone who is healthy and has minimal to no ankle deformities or misalignments.
What are the Benefits of Total Ankle Replacement Surgery?
The benefits associated with a total ankle replacement operation, include:
- A decrease in the amount of ongoing sharp pain or dull aching feeling experienced in the ankle
- A decrease in the amount of occasional pain experienced in the ankle while not bearing-weight
If you have been living with ankle pain associated with ankle arthritis and are considering seeking treatment, please consider Dr. Jeffrey McAlister, DPM, FACFAS, as your board-certified foot and ankle surgeon. Dr. McAlister is an expert in foot and ankle arthritis, board-certified and a fellowship-trained foot and ankle surgeon. He has performed many successful total ankle replacements. Contact our office at (602) 955-5700.
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