Ankle Instability Reconstruction

Ankle stabilisation surgery is recommended for patients who experience recurrent ankle sprains and instability despite appropriate physiotherapy rehabilitation. The aim of surgery is to stabilise the ankle by repairing the damaged ligaments. Restoring normal ankle joint biomechanics helps to prevent damage to the joint from recurrent sprains, and ultimately minimise the risk of post-traumatic ankle arthritis.

Procedure

Ankle lateral ligament repair surgery is performed though a small curved incision over the tip of the fibula. The torn ligaments are identified, shortened and repaired to their anatomical position on the fibula. This is usually achieved using bone anchors and strong sutures. Once the ligaments have been repaired solidly, the incision is sutured up and a local anaesthetic block is given to provide pain relief for 6-12 hours after the procedure.

Patients with other ankle joint problems such as joint surface damage (chondral or osteochondral lesions), synovitis, bone spurs or loose bodies in association with ankle instability may also require an ankle arthroscopy performed at the same time as the ligament repair. See further information about ankle arthroscopy here.

At the end of the operation, a bulky dressing is applied and the leg is placed in a walking boot.

Recovery

The surgery is usually performed as a day procedure. Patients are usually allowed to weight bear as tolerated in the boot after the operation. Crutches are recommended for a few days after the operation until the patient is comfortable walking.

Dressings should remain dry and intact until review by Dr Zilko two weeks after surgery. The boot is usually worn for two weeks, and a brace may be required for several weeks thereafter. Physiotherapy rehabilitation is a very important part of the post-operative recovery, and is usually started at two weeks once the wound has healed.

Time to return to work and sport is dependent on the type and severity of any associated ankle joint problems, as well as the type of work or sport. Dr Zilko will be able to evaluate this and provide some guidelines prior to surgery.

For further information about ankle sprains and instability, please click here.

Note: Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek an opinion from an appropriately qualified orthopaedic surgeon.