Treatments of the Ankle

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Achilles Tendinosis Surgery

The Achilles tendon is the largest tendon in your body. It connects the upper calf muscles to the back of the heel bone. When the Achilles tendon degenerates and becomes inflamed, it is called Achilles tendinosis. If you have Achilles tendinosis, your tendon can swell and become painful. This condition is common in athletes, runners, and people who have calf tightness. Achilles tendinosis may occur in the middle of the tendon (known as midsubstance Achilles tendinosis) or at the point where the tendon connects to the heel bone (known as insertional Achilles tendinosis).

For midsubstance Achilles tendinosis, surgery focuses on removing the diseased portion of the tendon. If most of the tendon is damaged, your foot and ankle orthopaedic surgeon often will use the tendon that goes to the big toe to support the Achilles tendon after repair. Other procedures may include lengthening the Achilles tendon or calf muscles if they are too tight.

Achilles Tendon Rupture Surgery

The goal of Achilles tendon repair is to reconnect the calf muscles with the heel bone to restore push-off strength. Regaining Achilles tendon function after an injury is critical for walking.

Ankle Arthrodesis

The goal of ankle arthrodesis (also known as ankle fusion) is to relieve pain and maintain or improve function for patients with ankle arthritis. Ankle arthritis is degeneration of the cartilage that covers the ends of the bones that form the ankle joint. These bones are the tibia, the fibula, and the talus. Pain typically is made worse with movement of the arthritic ankle. In ankle arthrodesis the ankle bones are fused into one bone. This eliminates the joint motion and reduces pain coming from the arthritic joint. 

Ankle Arthroscopy

Ankle arthroscopy is a minimally invasive surgical procedure that orthopaedic surgeons use to treat problems in the ankle joint. Ankle arthroscopy uses a thin fiber-optic camera (arthroscope) that can magnify and transmit images of the ankle to a video screen. Ankle arthroscopies can reduce ankle pain and improve overall function.

Arthroscopy can be used to diagnose and treat different disorders of the ankle joint. The list of problems that can sometimes be treated with this technology is constantly evolving and includes:

Ankle arthritis: Ankle fusion is a treatment option for many patients with end-stage ankle arthritis. Ankle arthroscopy offers a minimally invasive way to perform ankle fusion. Results can be equal to or better than open techniques.

Ankle fractures: Ankle arthroscopy may be used along with open techniques of fracture repair. This can help to ensure normal alignment of bone and cartilage. It also may be used during ankle fracture repair to look for cartilage injuries inside the ankle.

Ankle instability: Ligaments of the ankle can become stretched out, which can lead to a feeling that the ankle gives way. These ligaments can be tightened with surgery. Arthroscopic techniques may be an option for treating moderate instability.

Ankle Cheilectomy

An ankle cheilectomy is a surgery that removes a bone spur from the talus or tibia, which are the lower and upper bones of the ankle joint. 

The goal of an ankle cheilectomy is to relieve ankle pain caused by bone impingement or pinching at the front of the ankle. While this may be a sign of early ankle arthritis, an ankle cheilectomy is a joint preserving option that may help with pain and function and buy time before additional treatment is needed.

Ankle Fracture Surgery

The ankle is made up of three bones:

  • the tibia (shin bone), which forms the inside, front, and back of the ankle
  • the fibula, which forms the outside of the ankle
  • the talus, a small bone that sits between the tibia and fibula and the heel bone

The ends of these bones are called malleoli. The tibia has a medial (inside) malleoli and a posterior malleoli. The fibula forms the lateral (outside) malleoli. 

Bulk Allograft Transplantation for Osteochondral Lesions of the Talus

Osteochondral lesions of the talus (OLTs) are ankle joint injuries involving damage to the joint surface (cartilage) and/or underlying ankle bone (talus). A normal, healthy ankle joint is made up of smooth cartilage supported by strong bone underneath. Sometimes an ankle injury leads to damaged, rough areas of cartilage and bone underneath. Foot and ankle orthopaedic specialists call this type of injury an OLT. Since the ankle joint moves while walking, the rough spots may cause pain, swelling, stiffness, and decreased motion. It is kind of like having a pothole in the joint surface.

Bulk allograft transplantation takes bone and cartilage from a human cadaver and places it into the damaged talus. This surgery is reserved for severe cases of OLT that have either failed previous surgical treatment or involve a very large part of the talus. These types of OLTs may not respond to lesser surgeries.

Insertional Achilles Tendinosis

Insertional Achilles tendinitis is a degeneration of the fibers of the Achilles tendon directly at its insertion into the heel bone. It may be associated with inflammation of a bursa or tendon sheath in the same area. 

Lateral Ankle Ligament Reconstruction

Ankle sprains are one of the most common sports-related injuries. They affect 10,000 people per day. When the ligaments on the outside of the ankle are stretched or torn, patients can have pain and feelings of instability. If symptoms persist after non-surgical treatment, surgery may be required. The goal of this surgery is to restore normal stability to the ankle. This should also fix your feeling that the ankle “gives way” and any pain that is associated with an unstable ankle.

Mosaicplasty for Osteochondral Lesions of the Talus

Osteochondral lesions of the talus (OLT) are ankle joint injuries involving damage to the joint surface (cartilage) and/or underlying ankle bone (talus). A normal, healthy ankle joint is made up of smooth cartilage supported by strong bone underneath. Sometimes an ankle injury leads to damaged, rough areas of cartilage and bone underneath. Foot and ankle orthopaedic specialists call this type of injury an OLT. Since the ankle joint moves while walking, the rough spots may cause pain, swelling, stiffness, and decreased motion. It is kind of like having a pothole in the joint surface.

One way to treat the damaged ankle cartilage is through surgery. One type of surgery is called mosaicplasty (MP), which is the transplant of small amounts of bone and cartilage. The primary goal of this procedure is to smooth out the surface of the ankle joint by replacing the unhealthy spots with healthy, smooth cartilage. By reconstructing the surface, pain and other symptoms should decrease or stop all together.

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