Ankle arthroscopy is also known as key hole ankle surgery (or minimally invasive ankle surgery). It is an operation performed under general or regional anaesthetic and involves using two very small incisions to gain access into the ankle joint. Each incision is less than 1cm and usually two incisions are required both to give different perspectives of the joint as well as to allow the insertion of special instruments from the opposite side to that for the camera.
The ankle joint is relatively small and to allow good surgical access to the joint, its dimensions need temporarily to be increased. This is done using a combination of traction across the joint together with a flow of pressurised fluid circulating through the joint which distends it.
Not all ankle surgery can be done using arthroscopy but there are certain conditions for which it is commonly used. These include ankle arthritis , ankle impingement ,ankle instability ,pain following ankle fracture ,osteochondral defects ,loose bodies and synnovitis.
The alternative to arthroscopy is open ankle surgery which results in larger scars and generally somewhat more post-operative pain. For certain cases though this is unavoidable.
The very small incisions required for ankle arthroscopy result in minimal soft tissue disruption and trauma. This in turn means:
- Significantly lower pain levels than with an open approach
- The ankle is comfortable to weight bear through on the day of surgery
- Most cases can be performed on a day case basis
- Lower infection rates than opting for the open surgical approach
- Earlier return to work/function/sports
- Little scarring
- Minimal effect if further surgery to the ankle is required