The Foot and Ankle Clinic

After Ankle Fusion

Ankle fusion | What is an ankle fusion? | How is an ankle fusion achieved? | How long does it take for an ankle to fuse? | What sort of operations are available for ankle fusion? | What position will my ankle be fused in? | How can I walk with a fused ankle? (will I have a 'peg leg'?) | Will I be able to wear normal shoes after an ankle fusion? | Will my leg be short after an ankle fusion? | What will I be able to do after an ankle fusion? | How successful is an ankle fusion? | Why might an ankle not fuse? | Will an ankle fusion affect my knee, hip or back? | What if these joints are also arthritic? | Why think about an ankle replacement? | If my ankle is deformed (no longer in line with the rest of my leg) can this be corrected?


How can I walk with a fused ankle? (Will I have a 'peg leg'?)

After ankle fusion surgery a patients gait will usually be almost normal or much improved. This is possible because there are other joints close to the ankle which, if not arthritic and mobile, can allow the patient to compensate for a fused ankle.

FuseR.Ank.G  (1.4MB)     Download movie  (1.3MB)


Will I Be Able To Wear Normal Shoes After An Ankle Fusion?

Generally the answer to this is yes. If however either the foot is very stiff, or on occasions far too mobile, some modification of shoewear is sometimes necessary. This may be no more than wearing a lightweight walking type boot whenever practical. It may be that the sole of a normal shoe needs to be stiffened and a rocker type sole formed. On occasion a rigid orthotic which fits into a normal shoe may also be required. Generally however, this is not the case.


Will My Leg Be Short After An Ankle Fusion?

The answer to this depends very much on the extent (and depth) of the arthritic process affecting both sides of the ankle joint. It also is affected by the technique which is being used. Generally, following an arthroscopic type ankle fusion you would expect measurable change in the limb length and no functional difference in limb length. Occasionally, after open fusion a slight raise may be required on shoe wear but this is unusual.


What Will I Be Able To Do After An Ankle Fusion?

You are likely to be able to return to most activities following isolated ankle fusion, assuming the neighbouring joints are arthritis free. This would certainly include returning to heavy manual duties, being able to walk distance and the use of ladders. You would generally be able to break into a short light jog but the ability to run following an ankle fusion is unusual though not unheard of.


How Successful Is Ankle Fusion?

The success rates for ankle fusion vary depending on the technique used and also various other factors. Generally, when one considers success it is both a union of the ankle as well as a loss of the pre-operative symptoms. Ball park figures vary between 85-95% depending on the aforementioned factors.


Why Might An Ankle Not Fuse?

Generally non-union occurs for a reason. In the context of an ankle fusion this is unusual but the more common reasons would be a low grade infection at the fusion site which prevents the bone from healing, active smoking after the procedure which has a significantly detrimental affect upon bone union, mobilising and weight bearing at a rate beyond which the ankle fusion can tolerate in the early stages which is detrimental.


Will An Ankle Fusion affect My Knee, Hip or Back?

This question has been looked at following ankle fusion with longitudinal studies over several decades. There is certainly no evidence that arthritis will be produced in the other joints as a result of ankle fusion. It is however possible that dependent upon the nature of a patient's gait, these other joints may on occasion become uncomfortable. This is generally best addressed by assuming that gait post-operatively is as normal as possible, which as previously mentioned does occasionally require orthotic or shoe wear modification.

Further information on ankle fusion
For first hand experience please refer to the ankle fusion testimonials section of the website.

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