Ankle Arthroscopy – Arthroscopic Surgery

An ankle arthroscopy is a minimally invasive procedure performed to assess and repair damage to the ankle. As with other arthroscopic surgeries, it requires several small incisions surrounding the ankle. The surgeon inserts a small camera through one of these incisions to view the ankle while operating on it through the other openings.


Ankle pain may be caused by rolling, turning, or twisting of the ankle. These movements can stretch or tear the ankle’s ligaments, resulting in pain, swelling, stiffness, and redness. On occasion, this may lead to recurrent sprains and instability. Sometimes the cartilage lining in the ankle cracks, causing an osteochondral defect (OCD). In other cases, repeated irritation of the ankle joint can also cause these symptoms (known as ankle impingement).


While many patients with injured ankles respond favorably to conservative treatments, other cases are best treated with arthroscopic surgery. Arthroscopic surgery is often recommended for patients with cracked cartilage lining (OCD), bone spurs, loose cartilage or loose bodies, completely torn ligaments that result in recurrent instability and sprains, or chronic impingement that cannot be addressed with conservative treatment.

With arthroscopic surgery, the surgeon can repair the damaged ankle without disturbing the surrounding tissue. As a minimally invasive procedure, the operation minimizes trauma to local ligaments, muscles, and tissues, lowering the risk of infection, reducing post-operative pain, and quickening recovery times.


Ankle arthroscopy can be performed by an orthopedic surgeon with experience in arthroscopic surgery in a hospital or outpatient facility under a light general or local anesthetic. After making two pinhole incisions, the surgeon inserts a small camera into one of these openings to better view the damaged ankle while operating on it through the other incisions. The actual procedure will vary depending on the nature and extent of the damage, but it may include repairing or debriding damaged cartilage, repairing torn ligaments, or even replacing the damaged ligament with a graft taken from the patient or a donor.



While rehabilitation plans differ from patient to patient, all surgically repaired ankles should be rested, iced, and elevated for at least a week after the procedure. Following the procedure, patients will go home with a removable boot or brace. Depending on what is repaired, you may be able to walk with full weightbearing, or with crutches until the ankle can bear weight. The tiny incisions are covered for two days, and then a detailed physical therapy program begins under the surgeon’s direction.

Recovery Time

Recovery timelines for ankle injuries vary. While some patients will be ready to return to work within several days of the procedure (with some accommodations), most patients will need to rest for one to two weeks before resuming their usual activities. Similarly, athletes will need to refrain from training or exercising for four to six weeks. Patients requiring more involved reconstructions may also need a few months for a complete recovery.



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