As a result of the ankle being a weight-bearing joint that absorbs the body's full impact, pain from an injured or diseased ankle can be especially severe and debilitating. Total ankle replacement, or joint replacement surgery of the ankle joint, may be an excellent option for reducing pain and restoring mobility. Total ankle replacements have actually been available for more than 30 years, but early designs had many problems and were not very effective. This left people suffering with severe ankle arthritis with few options and a very limited lifestyle.
More recently, advances in ankle replacement technology have made the procedure very successful, but to do them properly requires highly specialized training. The foot and ankle surgeons at Step Lively Foot & Ankle Centers are among a handful of surgeons in the state certified in performing ankle replacement surgery. There are four FDA-approved ankle prostheses, so varying options are available depending on the specific problem, allowing for better implant matches and therefore better outcomes.
Early ankle replacement designs had only two components and required bone cement to hold them in proper position. Newer designs don't require cement. Instead, bone grows into the ankle prosthesis, similar to knee and hip replacements. Second-generation ankle implants are cement-less with a fixed (two-component) or mobile (three-component) design.
Who is a candidate for an ankle replacement?
People experiencing severe ankle pain from arthritis may be a candidate for ankle replacement. The other surgical option is ankle fusion (arthrodesis). Ankle replacement allows you to retain more mobility and movement in the ankle compared to ankle fusion.