If you are experiencing pain or swelling within your ankle that has not eased after some rest, your consultant may recommend an ankle arthroscopy to diagnose and treat the cause of your pain.

What is ankle arthroscopy?

An ankle arthroscopy (also known as keyhole ankle surgery) allows your surgeon to see inside the ankle by using a thin tube with a camera that is inserted through small incisions in your skin, without the need to fully open up the joint or make large incisions.

Your consultant can usually treat conditions during an arthroscopy, such as removing scar tissue and small fragments of bone from a previous injury or tightening ligaments within the ankle joint that may have become stretched over time. 

A key benefit of this procedure is that it is minimally invasive, with a shorter operating time and a faster recovery period.

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What does an ankle arthroscopy involve?

The operation is usually performed under a general anaesthetic and takes about thirty minutes.

Your surgeon will usually make about two to four small incisions around the ankle joint. They will place a thin telescope (camera) through one of the incisions so they can examine the joint in detail and place surgical instruments through others if they need to treat any problems with the joint.

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Are there any alternatives to an ankle arthroscopy?

Problems inside a joint can often be diagnosed using tests such as CT and MRI scans. Physiotherapy and anti-inflammatory painkillers, such as ibuprofen, can sometimes prevent or delay the need for an arthroscopy, but if the inflammation is found to be caused by loose cartilage or bone within your ankle joint, you may then need an arthroscopy to treat the problem.

Your consultant will generally advise you of your options and be able to recommend the treatment suited to your needs.

What complications can happen?

As with any procedure, there can be risks associated with surgical procedures and general anaesthetic. General side effects such as pain, bleeding or difficulty passing urine are most often temporary and should ease over time. However, should any unexpected or longer term side effects arise, please do not hesitate to contact the Horder Healthcare team to help correct them.

General complications

  • Pain
  • Bleeding
  • Infection of the surgical site (wound)
  • Scarring
  • Blood clots
  • Difficulty passing urine (as a result of general anaesthesia)

Specific complications

  • Damage to nerves around the ankle
  • Developing a lump under the wound
  • Infection in the ankle joint
  • Severe pain, stiffness and loss of use of the foot (complex regional pain syndrome)
  • Compartment syndrome, where the calf muscles swell and get tight
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This document is intended for information purposes only and should not replace advice that your relevant health professional would give you.

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Mr Stephen Milner DM FRCS (Tr. & Orth.)
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The operation and treatment information on this webpage is produced using information from EIDO Systems International and is licensed by Horder Healthcare. The information should not replace the advice that your relevant health professional would give you.

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