What Is Ankle Arthroscopy and How Can It Benefit Me?

Ankle arthroscopy surgery is a procedure using a pencil-sized fiber-optic camera, three to four millimeters in diameter, to diagnose and treat problems with the ankle. The patient is placed under anesthesia, usually regional, and a small incision is made in the ankle through which the arthroscope is inserted, which also shines a tiny bright light inside. A screen connected to the arthroscope displays the video images of the interior of the patient's joint, and the orthopedic surgeon focuses on this, while moving the arthroscope around, inspecting the bones, cartilage, tendons, and ligaments in the affected ankle. 

When to Ask About Ankle Arthroscopy as a Treatment Option

There are a number of reasons why ankle arthroscopy surgery might be necessary, and it usually becomes an option after the patient has already tried more straightforward treatments such as resting the ankle, painkillers, and physiotherapy. If ankle problems persist, your New York ankle arthroscopydoctor will request X-rays, and even perhaps an MRI scan, to try to diagnose what is causing the problem, and to determine if an ankle arthroscopy might be required.

Originally a purely diagnostic procedure, ankle arthroscopy has since evolved to combine initial diagnosis with surgical repair, all during the same surgery. Your New York ankle arthroscopysurgeon examines for loose bone and cartilage fragments, joint fractures, bony spurs and torn ligaments. Your doctor will then repair any damaged tissues with tiny incisions through which to insert instruments. Tears in muscle, tendons or cartilage can be mended, and any loose fragments, bony spurs or inflamed soft tissue removed. Bone fractures will require treatment by traditional open surgery using a large incision.

After ankle arthroscopy surgery, all incisions will be stitched and a padded bandage will be placed over the ankle. The surgeon will likely take still photos from the monitor during the procedure to show the patient the injuries found and any repairs that were made.


Ankle Arthroscopy Benefits

The benefits of ankle arthroscopy surgeryare considerable. The procedure is only minimally invasive, and yet affords the orthopedic surgeon complete visualization of the interior of the affected ankle. A smaller incision minimizes such problems as scarring, pain, bleeding and infection that are often associated with large incisions. There is less trauma disruption to ligaments, muscles and soft tissue. Consequently, patients undergoing an ankle arthroscopy surgeryusually leave the hospital that same day, or at the very latest, the following morning.

Healing is much faster afterankle arthroscopy surgery, and the patient can return to walking and sporting activities much sooner.

Getting Back On Your Feet: Recovery Time Following Ankle Arthroscopy Surgery

The New York orthopedic surgeon will advise the patient how long anankle arthroscopy recovery will take, as this depends very much on the specific surgical procedure performed. Generally, the more complex the procedure, the longer it takes to make a full recovery.

The patient should be able to walk on the ankle very shortly after recovering from the anesthetic, although it may be sore for a few days. The small surgical incisions have usually healed after several days. Crutches might be required for about two weeks until full weight can be applied to the ankle.

Returning to work depends on the nature of the occupation. An individual with a desk job may be able to return within a week, whereas someone engaged in heavy manual labor might not be able to return to work for a month or two. Either way, it’s important the patient feels comfortable before returning to work, and again the New York ankle arthroscopydoctor should be able to advise.

With regards to returning to driving, much depends on how comfortable the individual patient feels. An automatic car can usually be driven within two weeks of surgery if it was performed on the left ankle, as the safe execution of an emergency stop is not hindered. Otherwise, the patient should expect to wait a couple of weeks before being able to resume driving. It is also dangerous to drive while still on narcotic pain medication.

Sports activities take the longest time for the patient to return to, not surprisingly as more stress is applied to the ankle during physical exercise, in particular contact sports. It will depend on the severity of the original ankle injury, post-operative swelling and comfort. As a rough guide, gentle sports activity can usually be resumed about six weeks after the ankle arthroscopy surgery. The patient should also start with walking and cycling, before moving to light running. Impact sports should not be attempted before the foot and ankle are reasonably flexible; and contact sports should not be played before the patient can turn and jump comfortably. In all, it usually takes between two and three months before the patient can return to competitive sports such as football or squash.

Finding The Right New York Ankle Arthroscopy Surgeon

Ankle arthroscopy is an orthopedic surgical procedure, and a minimally invasive one. As with all surgical procedures there are attendant risks. With arthroscopy surgery the complications that may arise are blood clots, infection, even breakage of the surgical instruments (as these are by necessity small and fragile). With all these small but potentially serious hazards, it is crucial the patient chooses an experienced, well-respected, and extremely competent New York orthopedic surgeon who specializes in treating the foot and ankle.

New York City is fortunate to be home to the Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS), ranked #1 for orthopedics in the USA by the US News & World Report 2013/14. Their outstanding reputation is in part because they specialize only in orthopedic surgery and have an excellent New York ankle arthroscopy doctor.

The orthopedic foot & ankle surgeon at HSS is Dr. David S. Levine, MD, who has extensive experience in this field, including New York ankle arthroscopy surgery, reconstructive surgery and trauma. His highly skilled team includes a physician assistant, nurses and anesthesiologists who together ensure the patient receives the best care both during surgery and post-operatively.

Hundreds of New Yorkers, and those from surrounding areas, who have suffered foot and ankle injuries over the years have put their trust in the hands of Dr. Levine, who has set them on the surefooted path to recovery.