Ankle Replacement Surgery has been available for patients for over two decades now. However, it is far less frequently performed surgery than knee or hip arthroplasty owing to a lesser incidence of osteoarthritis in patients. A majority of ankle osteoarthritis is subsidiary to trauma. This condition tends to appear in younger patients. Ankle replacement surgery is the gold standard of treating complications like osteoarthritis in midfoot joints & stiffness. Reliable designs with longer term results make it a viable alternative for majority of patients. According to recent studies, ankle arthroplasty promotes healthy ankles & has successfully relieved 95 percent of patients completely from their ankle issues.
What is Ankle Replacement Surgery?
Ankle replacement surgery is a surgical technique performed for patients with ankle osteoarthritis problem. Arthritic changes in patients may be caused due to normal wear & tear due to the aging factor or from mere injury such as ankle dislocation. Ultimately it leads to heavy pain, loss of cartilage & deformity. Main aim of ankle replacement is to minimize persistent pain of ankle & preserve its mobility. This surgery replaces flawed portions of bones which together make up the ankle joint. Depending upon patient’s requirement, different sizes of artificial joint parts known as ‘prosthetics’ are used to replace patient’s own bones.
There are various causes of painful ankle condition which may necessitate ankle replacement surgery. Few causes of ankle stiffness are given below.
- Ankle Osteoarthritis – Unlike other body parts, it is not the ‘wear & tear’ type that goes ahead with aging. Instead, it is mostly due to an injury & most commonly known as post-traumatic arthritis.
- Fractures – Patients can get ankle osteoarthritis after a serious injury, like a damaging fracture or after several injuries over time such as repeated sprains.
- Strain on Ankle Joint – When patients are bow-legged, flat-footed, knock-kneed, bowlegged, or have high arches, they might also get problem of ankle osteoarthritis because these conditions create extra strain on ankles.
Following signs & symptoms of ankle osteoarthritis may lead to severe conditions which in turn may require ankle replacement surgery.
- Trouble bending ankle while walking
- Painful bone spurs
- Reduced motion
These symptoms may develop several months or years after patients were injured. Pain can get worse with time causing cartilage loss. Patients also get other troubles because cartilage in the joint wears away. If these signs & symptoms are experienced, patients must consult an orthopedic surgeon for treatment.
Ankle replacement surgery is a significant procedure which can be considered for patients with severe damage to the joint following trauma or advanced arthritis. Best results following ankle replacement surgery have been observed in older patients, generally aged over 55 years, because they put their ankles under comparatively less stress than younger patients.
Diagnosing condition of patients, orthopedic surgeons will probably begin by asking certain questions as follows.
- What are the symptoms that you have observed?
- When did these symptoms start?
- Does your pain increase when you’re simply walking or running?
- Is your pain persistent or does it come & go?
- Have you had any sprains or fracture in ankles?
Orthopedic surgeons will precisely observe everything & may also take the following tests.
- Movement of Ankle – In addition to above information, doctors will evaluate patient’s ankle for swelling & observe how well it is able to move freely.
- Pain in Ankle – Surgeons will also check if there is any pain during motion of ankles.
- X-Rays – Surgeons may also ask patients to get an X-ray of ankle. If images show that space between bones is confined, it could reveal missing cartilage. A bone spur can also be spotted & which might be a clue that the patient is having arthritis.
- MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) – Surgeons may use MRI scan technique to determine underlying problems.
- CT (Computed Tomography) Scan –Patients might also be asked to undergo CT scans that use powerful X-rays to create detailed images of the ankle.
Following types of ankle replacement surgery can be performed for patients reckoning on their ankle condition.
- Ankle Arthroscopy – Minimally invasive surgery is executed by implanting a lighted scope & slender instruments through small incisions in skin over patient’s ankles. Orthopedic surgeons may use this procedure to examine or repair damaged ligaments.
- Ankle Fusion – This surgical method involves eliminating surfaces of ankle joints severely affected by arthritis & joining bones with screws & plates until they fuse together. While this technique leaves the ankle without side-to-side movement or up & down movement, it can be a powerful & permanent pain relief alternative for arthritis affected ankles.
- Ankle Distraction Arthroplasty – This innovative method uses an external frame which is put together around the foot & lower leg & surgically joined with wires & pins. Ankle distraction arthroplasty protects the joint & its natural movement as well.
Patients should always have transparent communication with the orthopedic surgeon. They should honestly tell their healthcare provider what medicines & drugs they are currently consuming even herbs or any supplements they bought without any prescription.
Few Weeks before Ankle Replacement Surgery
- Discontinue Certain Medications – Patients may be asked to discontinue taking certain drugs which make it hard for blood to clot. These include ibuprofen, aspirin, naproxen & other similar drugs.
- Medical Examination – Patients suffering from diabetes, heart disease or any other medical problem should perform a medical examination to ensure their fitness level prior to ankle replacement surgery. Along with it, patients should always let their surgeons know about any flu, herpes breakout or any other illness they may have had before surgery.
- Alcohol – Patients should clearly tell their surgeons about their alcohol consumption limit per day. Alcohol should not be consumed in excessive quantities.
- Smoking – If patients have a habit of smoking, they should try to quit before surgery. Smoking can decelerate wound & bone healing.
- Physical Therapy – Patients may consult their physical therapist to learn some light exercises in advance. They may also learn to use crutches which will be required after surgery.
All these steps will prove useful to patients in order to recover faster.
When patients have finally decided to perform ankle replacement surgery, they should clear all confusions & doubts with experienced orthopedic surgeons. Following list of questions may be useful for them.
- Why is ankle replacement surgery being recommended to me? Are there any alternatives?
- What are the benefits of ankle replacement surgery for me, in terms of pain relief & functioning?
- What major risks are involved with my surgery?
- What is the success ratio for ankle replacement surgery?
- Where will you perform the operation? How is it done?
- Will this surgery resolve my problems? Will any additional surgery be needed in future?
- What will happen if I do not wish to undergo this surgery now?
- How many ankle replacement surgeries have you performed earlier?
- Will I require any specific medical tests or evaluations prior to surgery?
- What type of anesthesia will be used in my ankle replacement surgery?
- Are there any potential after effects or risks of this surgery?
- Will I have severe pain following this procedure? What pain control measures will be given to me?
- Will I have any infirmity following ankle replacement surgery? Will you provide physical therapy?
- How long will it take for complete recovery? What will be my limitations during the recovery phase?
- When can I return to my work? When can I drive my car?
Patients should request & confirm that orthopedic surgeons will pre-operatively confirm & mark the surgical site.
Ankle replacement surgery involves replacing natural facets of ankle joint which have degraded with an artificial cover called prosthesis. Basically, ankle replacement has three vital components. Two of the components enclose the joint & intermediate is a mobile component. This acknowledges for greater movement & lessens stress between implants & bone. Component covering part of ankle joint called as the tibia is smooth & flat. It is infused into bone with a concise stem. A component which covers an area of ankle joint called talus is arched & locked into proper position with pegs. All these components are enclosed in a bioactive covering which promotes patient’s own bone to sprout into artificial fixtures. It allows patients to preserve movement & gain a few degrees as well. Success generally lies in the way the new artificial ankle joint merges with natural bone.
After ankle replacement surgery, patients will most likely need to stay in the hospital for one night. Surgeons may give a nerve block to patients in order to control severe pain for the first 24 hours following surgery. Ankle of patients will be in a splint or a cast after surgery. A tiny tube that aids drain blood from operation site may be left for one or two days. In order to help ease swelling, patients will be instructed to keep the foot raised higher than their heart while resting or sleeping. Physical therapy would be provided to patients once they get off ankle pain. Light exercises will allow patients to move more easily. Patients most likely will not be able to put any heavy weight on the delicate ankle for a few months of time. Orthopedic surgeons will recommend patients to use crutches or support for nearly a month while walking. Patients will gradually return back to normal routine activities like driving approximately after three months post surgery. Patients should check with surgeons if they can start weight-bearing activities such as golfing or bicycling. However, they should avoid contact sports & any activity that builds stress upon the ankle joint. Recovery will depend upon patient’s optimistic attitude & his/her dedication towards obeying necessary guidelines of orthopedic surgeons.
Certain risks & complications are an inevitable part of any surgery. However, these can be minimized with proper care. Some potential complications associated with ankle replacement surgery are listed below.
- Adverse reactions to medicines & anesthesia
- Certain breathing problems
- Heavy bleeding
- Blood clot
- Ankle weakness
- Nerve damage
- Dislocation of the artificial joint
- Blood vessel damage
- Loosening of the artificial joint
- Skin is not properly healing after surgery
- Bone breakage during surgery
- Allergic reactions to the artificial joint
Ankle replacement surgery successfully restores joint function in patients with severe joint disease resulting from traumatic arthritis, osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis. It provides a good usable range of motion to the patient’s ankle. Overall, a large number of patients are very satisfied with ankle replacement surgery & get back to a comparatively active lifestyle without harsh pain of ankle arthritis. Main advantages of ankle replacement surgery are described as follows.
- Better function and mobility
- Long-lasting pain relief
- Larger choice of cozy footwear
- Enhanced appearance of feet, depending upon the method
Ankle replacement surgery, will most likely help patients to move ankle up & down in a natural fashion. In majority of cases, ankle replacements last for 15 or more years. It will, however, depend upon the patients’ overall health, activity level & amount of damage they had to ankle joint prior to undergoing surgery.
Medical Tourism in India for Top-Quality Ankle Replacement Surgery
India is a well-known global destination for medical tourism & it has become a contender in the whole world for international patients seeking top-notch orthopedic surgeries at affordable costs. Availability of best ankle replacement surgeons in India makes it a preferable country for people seeking orthopedic procedures. Hospitals in India have the latest technology like computer navigation, high-end MRI, neuro-physiology etc. Cost of orthopedic surgeries like ankle replacement surgery in India is less than a 25 percent of the cost of ankle replacement surgery in UK or USA with the finest quality of implants. Orthopedic surgeons & hospital staff in India are English speaking & therefore, there is no language barrier for global patients.
Reasons to Choose Travcure for Ankle Replacement Surgery
Being a leading medical tourism service provider company, Travcure has very good association with multispecialty hospitals & top orthopedic surgeons in India.
- Most trustworthy medical tourism company in India
- Helped numerous international patients for ankle replacement surgery
- Associated with best ankle replacement surgeons in India
- Pre-surgery consultation for boosting confidence in international patients
- Negotiated prices with top-class orthopedic hospitals in India
Travcure also provides recuperation packages to international guests for healing body, mind & soul following ankle replacement surgery. Travcure believes in providing best possible provisions to global healthcare seekers so that they take warm memories when they fly back home.
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