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Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Foot and Ankle

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Ankle fusion (arthrodesis)

This is a surgical procedure which joins together the main bones of the ankle joint (the tibia and the talus). However, depending on the technique your surgeon will use, occasionally the fibula will be included in this procedure.

The two joint surfaces which generate the pain are removed. The joints are then fused together with screws.

In an ankle fusion the joints each side from the fused joint can take over some of the original function of the affected joint.

The recovery time following fusion will depend on the technique used and on the individual patient, but generally an ankle should be well on the way to uniting by six weeks and be united by twelve to fourteen weeks. The bone will then continue to strengthen as time goes on.

The good news is that once the ankle has fused you will be able to return to most of your pre-operative activities. These include heavy manual employment, walking distance, climbing ladders and light jogging. It is unlikely (although not unheard of) that you will be able to run.

With this type of procedure, there is the probability that within ten to twenty years following ankle fusion the main joint beneath the ankle (sub-talar joint) may well become arthritic, although surgery is not normally needed again. It is important therefore for you to discuss the full implications of this procedure with your consultant.