What is a Total Ankle Replacement?
A Total Ankle Replacement (TAR) is an artificial joint used to replace an arthritic or diseased ankle joint. You may not be aware of them as they are much less common than hip or knee replacements, but are very similar in nature and outcomes. Metal parts replace the damaged bone surfaces and a special plastic spacer allows the joint to move.
What does a Total Ankle Replacement entail?
A Total Ankle Replacement is a big operation. It usually takes about 90 minutes.
It can usually be done as a day case or with a 1 night hospital stay. It involves an incision (cut) at the front of the ankle. Through this a saw is used to cut the end of the tibia and the top of the talus to remove the diseased bone surfaces. Metal parts are then hammered into the cut ends and a plastic spacer inserted between these.
The metal and plastic components are shaped to allow the joint to move. X-rays are taken throughout the operation to allow them to be precisely positioned. After the operation the ankle is placed in a plaster for two weeks.
Objectives of a Total Ankle Replacement
Nearly all ankle replacements are done for pain relief. It is a very good treatment of painful arthritis. A Total Ankle Replacement also allows some movement in the ankle joint allowing a more natural walking pattern after the surgery. Some deformity can be corrected with an ankle replacement.