What To Expect From Minimally Invasive Ankle Fracture Surgery

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What To Expect From Minimally Invasive Ankle Fracture Surgery

What To Expect From Minimally Invasive Ankle Fracture Surgery

The human ankle bears the brunt of all activities in our lives from birth through the senior years. Healthy ankles are vital for walking, running, dancing and every other action encountered during a lifetime. Factor in a sports injury, a car accident, or even a random hole in the ground and you’ve got a recipe for a broken ankle. But what exactly is involved with a broken ankle?

What bones are in my ankle?
The ankle is comprised of various bones which work in sync to move the foot, along with cartilage, tendons, and ligaments. This complicated group of tissue works together to keep the foot strong and able to support the body.

Some of the major bones affecting this movement include:

  • Tibia-the large bone that extends from the knee to the ankle
  • Fibula-The bone on the outer side of the ankle that also goes to the knee
  • Talus-the ankle bone which is part of the “hinge” that allows for extensive movement of the foot
  • Calcaneus-the heel bone made up of the subtalar joint and the calcaneocuboid joint-the Achilles tendon attaches to the back of this bone

How do you know you have a broken bone in your ankle?
A fractured bone or broken ankle will cause severe pain and you will have difficulty putting pressure on the foot. Usually, there will be swelling and the appearance of bruising on the ankle or heel. Pain may even radiate upwards through the leg to the knee. Using the foot with these indicators could cause even more damage, so it’s best to stay off of the foot until you are able to see a broken bone doctor.

What if I have a calcaneus fracture?
A heel bone fracture may occur after a specific accident, such as a car wreck or a fall from a high place. A good indicator is the inability to put any kind of pressure on the heel. There might also be bruising or swelling. Surgery may be considered as an option for treatment depending on the extent of the injury.

How will I know I need surgery on my heel?
The heel bone is aligned in a specific manner, and when the calcaneus has moved or the contour has changed, surgery is recommended. Complete foot and ankle X-rays, as well as a physical examination, will help the doctor determine if surgery is needed. A CT (computed tomography) scan may also be ordered to better assist in the evaluation of treatment.

What factors should I look for to determine if surgery is right for me?
At times, a broken ankle will be in a stable position allowing it to heal correctly without surgery, which should be determined by a medical professional. Another factor would be a medical condition that is severe or the overall health of the patient.

What can you expect when you get in to see the doctor?
During the initial examination, your medical history will be discussed as well as the activity that caused the injury. An X-ray will be taken to determine the extent of the injury and to help determine if surgery is needed. Many factors come into play and a prognosis will be determined by a broken ankle doctor. Anytime the bone is protruding through the skin, surgery will be required quickly to avoid infection and repair the injury.

What outcome can I expect from ankle surgery?
The main goal of ankle fracture surgery is to get the bones to heal with a normal shape and full movement. A successful repair of the broken bones will reduce the odds of having arthritis in the ankle later in life.

What is minimally invasive ankle fracture surgery?
Antibiotics are usually administered shortly before surgery as a precaution against infection. When the anesthesia starts to take effect, the surgeon can begin. An incision is made on the skin for access to the fractured bones, which are then put back into their correct position and sometimes held with plates or screws, depending on the damage. After the repair, a splint may be used to reduce any chance of movement.

What can I expect after surgery?
While the broken bones are healing, the ankle will need to be completely immobile for a few weeks to ensure the break fuses and repairs correctly. If everything looks good, the doctor may prescribe a removable boot to protect the healing ankle. This allows for cleaning of the surgery site, possible icing for swelling and pain, and also to allow the doctor to inspect the incision. If healing is successful, the next step will be using the ankle, with the boot and without. Over time, and possibly with physical therapy, full functionality and mobility will be achieved.

In the future, will I need to have my screws and/or plate removed?
Ordinarily, the hardware used to hold the broken bones together is not removed providing there are no complications. Usually, there are none, but occasionally they can cause some irritation and pain. They will then be removed after the break is completely healed.

While a foot fracture can be very painful and the thought of surgery may make you anxious, remember that this type of surgery is performed many times a day all over the world with exceptional results. You can be confident that medical science has mastered the art of fixing a broken ankle, with or without surgery.