As the region's most preferred orthopedic practice, we are dedicated to offering state-of-the-art treatments to provide our patients a pain-free, active lifestyle. As part of that dedication, our own fellowship-trained foot and ankle surgeon, Dr. Michael Goldberger, offers ankle replacement surgery for patients meeting specific criteria.

What Is Ankle Replacement Surgery?

Total ankle replacement, or total ankle arthroplasty, is a surgery that is performed to remove the damaged portions of the ankle bones and cartilage and replace them with an artificial joint implant. 

The ankle joint itself is made up of three bones: the tibia (large lower leg bone), the fibula (small lower leg bone), and the talus. These bones work together to allow for movement of the ankle joint, which provides both circular and up-and-down motions. When these bones and the cartilage between them are damaged, the joint no longer functions properly and may require surgical intervention, such as ankle arthrodesis (ankle fusion) or surgical replacement with an artificial ankle.

Total ankle replacement functions to relieve pain in the ankle joint as well as restore and maintain the function of the ankle and foot and to help improve range of motion. 

Who Is a Good Candidate for Total Ankle Replacement Surgery?

Although some patients need total ankle replacement after an injury, the procedure is typically performed on those with rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis, which is a form of arthritis associated with wear and tear. Ankle arthritis is also sometimes associated with knee pain, as favoring one ankle can lead to added strain on one or both knees. After ankle replacement, this issue should subside. 

Your doctor will ask you questions about your overall health as well as your ankle pain and how it is impacting your daily life. After a physical exam to assess the strength, range of motion, and condition of your ankle, you will have X-rays taken so your provider can better understand the damage. 

Before recommending total ankle replacement, your orthopedic surgeon may suggest other treatments, such as steroid injections, medications, or bracing, in addition to avoiding activities that could make your symptoms worse. Surgery is only recommended if nonsurgical treatments are not helpful or no longer relieve your pain.

If you have arthritis and your ankle pain is interfering with your daily function, you may be a good candidate for total ankle replacement. Also, if you have post-traumatic arthritis due to an injury, you may also benefit from total ankle replacement.

What to Expect Before, During, and After Your Ankle Replacement

Total ankle replacement is performed in a hospital and takes approximately two to three hours. After you are given anesthesia, your surgeon will make an incision in the front of your ankle, but smaller incisions may also be made on the outside, depending on the type of implant. Your bone is then cut, which allows your surgeon to place the ankle prosthesis implant with a talar component and a tibial component to recreate your ankle joint. At this stage, your surgeon may adjust your calf muscle or Achilles tendon, if necessary, to help improve the range of motion of your ankle.

Your incisions will be closed, and you will be monitored in the recovery room. Your foot will be in dressing, and later you will be given a cast or a boot. After staying in the hospital for several days (until you can walk using crutches or a walker), you can return home. During recovery, you will need to have your foot elevated as much as possible to reduce swelling and improve healing. 

After your surgical site has healed, your surgeon will ask you to start easy movements and non-weight-bearing activities. Several weeks later, you may be able to put some weight on your ankle. Some patients work with a physical therapist after ankle replacement surgery. You should expect to wear a boot or cast for several months and should carefully follow your doctor's guidance.

As with any surgery, there is a risk of infection or blood clots, and Dr. Goldberger and his entire surgical team take every precaution and follow the strictest protocols to ensure your safety. 

You should seek out an experienced orthopedic surgeon to perform your total ankle replacement. This clinician should not only be skilled at performing the surgery but also have the ability to accurately assess the extent of the damage prior to surgery. 

Why Choose Tri-County Orthopedics?

If you are considering ankle replacement, or ankle arthroplasty, you should seek out an orthopedic surgeon with experience and training in ankle replacement surgeries to perform your procedure. With years of experience and advanced training devoted to the orthopedic care of the ankle, our esteemed ankle surgeon, Dr. Goldberger, is an unparalleled expert in comprehensive foot and ankle care.

Dr. Goldberger has the knowledge, proficiency, and skill to accurately diagnose and effectively treat your ankle injury or condition so you can get back to your active lifestyle.

If you want to learn if ankle replacement is right for you, please request an appointment online or call (973) 538-2334.