What is it?
Ankle arthroscopy refers to the technique used by orthopaedic surgeons whereby they insert a very small (2mm diameter) camera into the ankle joint. It is a minimally invasive surgical procedure, commonly known as keyhole surgery, and allows the surgeon to look directly inside the ankle joint to determine exactly what is wrong. Because the surgeon has a direct view, he can say with some certainty what is causing a problem that may not have shown up on an x-ray or a scan. As soon as the surgeon identifies the problem he can rectify it there and then with small tools that are attached to the camera.
When is this Technique Used?
An ankle arthroscopy is carried out when patients are suffering from the long term effects of repeated ankle sprains, and physiotherapy has failed to rectify the situation. There is often pain, stiffness or clicking; sometimes, due to over-use or trauma, there are small pieces of bone within the ankle joint space, and these can be removed very easily. In the case of patients who have suffered repeated ankle sprains, there is a buildup of excessive scar tissue, which can cause pain and restrict the range of movement.
What does the Procedure Involve?
Most ankle arthroscopies are carried out as outpatient operations, and the patient is usually able to leave the same day, with a compression bandage on their ankle. The procedure is carried out under a light general anaesthetic. The small camera is introduced to the joint through small ‘portals’ on the inside and outside of the ankle and the whole operation usually takes about 45 minutes to perform. A course of physiotherapy is required after the surgery and the patient is usually given the all clear to resume normal activities after a check-up at 6 weeks.