Ankle replacement surgery, also called total ankle arthroplasty (TAA), is an option for people who have lost mobility in their ankle due to arthritis or injury. During an ankle replacement, a surgeon replaces the damaged part of the lower shin and upper foot bone with metal components. The cartilage is replaced with high-density plastic. These new parts recreate the ankle joint and, for the majority of patients, restore mobility and reduce or eliminate pain.
What happens during an ankle replacement?
Ankle replacement surgeries are usually performed by an orthopedic surgeon, though they can be done by a general surgeon. During surgery, you will be either under general anesthesia or a regional nerve block. Either way, you won’t feel any pain. This type of surgery usually requires a hospital stay of two to three days. However, some patients may be eligible for outpatient ankle replacement surgery, depending on their overall health and doctor’s recommendations. Recovery takes approximately six weeks, though this varies between patients. After a healing period of rest and ankle immobilization, physical therapy is often recommended to help patients build strength and mobility in their new ankle joint.
Are there alternatives to ankle replacement surgery?
If your doctor tells you that you need an ankle replacement surgery, it’s usually because you’ve tried other options — such as medication and physical therapy — without success. There are two surgical alternatives to a total ankle arthroplasty, though you’ll want to check with your doctor to see if either is a good option for you.
- Ankle joint fusion – An ankle joint fusion uses pins, screws, and plates to prevent movement between the surfaces of the joint. The joint will then be completely immobile, which will affect how you walk. This has the potential to cause arthritis due to the added strain on surrounding joints and tissues. Over time, there is also a chance of damage to the soft tissues around the joint. According to a 2011 study, ankle joint fusions might not be as cost-effective as total ankle replacements.
- Arthroscopic debridement – An arthroscopic debridement is an option for patients who have mild to moderate arthritis and/or bone spurs. (For severe arthritis and serious injury, total ankle replacement is preferred.) The surgeon will remove damaged bone, cartilage, and tissue using an arthroscope. This should improve mobility and decrease pain.
The type of orthopedic procedure you get will depend on your personal health and your doctor’s recommendations. Feel free to ask your doctor why they’re recommending any procedure. If you’re unsure about your ankle replacement surgery, you have the right to get a second opinion.
How much should you pay for ankle replacement surgery?
If you’ve been suffering from ankle pain and immobility, deciding to get ankle replacement surgery could be your first step towards recovery. The next step is finding the right surgeon and healthcare facility for your needs. The choices that you make can affect how much you pay for your ankle replacement surgery. Visit New Choice Health’s ankle replacement surgery cost information page to learn what factors can influence the cost of your medical procedure, as well as how much your ankle replacement surgery should cost.