Ankle Reconstruction Surgery

Facts about Ankle Reconstruction Surgery

Throughout a lifetime, there are certain parts of the body that see much more stress and activity than others, such as the ankle.  Reconstruction surgery of this much used joint can become necessary when numerous injuries occur over the course of a lifetime, whether in regular daily life or through athletic activities.

The ankle bone’s connected to…

An ankle joint is described as a “hinge” joint.  Although a true hinge joint allows only motion forward and backward, the ankle joint also permits slight side to side movement as well.  The overall design of the ankle, with bones, ligaments, muscle, nerves and blood vessels, makes it an extremely stable joint.  This is necessary, since the ankle must be able to withstand up to eight times an individual’s body weight during the most strenuous activity of running.

The ankle connects the foot bones to the small bones of the lower leg.  Without the hinge joint to allow the bending and flexing of the joining area, walking and running would be made almost impossible.  A hinge allows movement, while the lining of articular cartilage between the bones of the joint allows smooth movement.  Tendons and ligaments round out the synergy of the ankle joint; holding the bone structure secure during activity.

Ankle injuries

Though highly stable, the ankle is subject to any number of injuries.  Considering the continual stress placed on the joint, it is no wonder that sprains, strains and fractures occur.  Often, people simply endure the pain felt when such injury is experienced while continuing with their normal regimen without permitting the ankle to heal properly.  Healing still takes place, but repeated episodes of injuries allow build up of scar tissue.  This scar tissue will carry residual damage over time, causing instability of the ankle joint as well as pain and swelling.  Over time, the only resolution for the damage is surgery.

Surgical reconstruction

With joint stability being a vital role for the ankle, reconstruction surgery is normally recommended when the instability and its ensuing problems becomes a chronic condition.  The procedure utilizes both open arthrotomy and arthroscopy.  A surgical incision is made near the center of the ankle to expose the malleolus, tibia and talus bones during open arthrotomy, leaving a small scar after reparation of the ligaments and tendons is repaired.  Arthroscopy uses a small camera to reveal the interior of the ankle without need for any incision.  The extent of damage expected will determine the type of surgery to repair it.

After surgery

Open surgery generally requires a one or two day hospital stay, after which the patient will be instructed to use crutches for at least the first couple of weeks following surgery.   Some pain is to be expected during healing.  While individual cases will vary, light activity can be generally be resumed after the incision wound has healed, and more strenuous exercise after six weeks.  Complete healing for most individuals is achieved after approximately 3 months. 
Arthroscopic surgery, due to its noninvasive nature, greatly reduces healing time.  Precautions must still be taken during healing to avoid problems.


In some cases, ankle surgery may require the use of hardware, such as pins, to secure the ankle and reestablish stability.   When severe damage has occurred that disrupts stability of the joint, ankle replacement surgery may become necessary to provide a return to normal ankle function.

It is not surprising that the ankle, a joint which endures daily stress through normal activity, can experience damage that may eventually require correction such as ankle reconstruction surgery.  The procedure is common especially among athletes who place great stress on their ankle joints, but even daily activity can result in chronic problems.  The good news is that in most cases, stability to the ankle is able to be restored in most individuals through surgical means.