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'?)

Following ankle fusion surgery a patients gait or walk 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 walk without an issue with a fused ankle.

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

Will I beable to wear normal shoes after an Ankle Fusion?

Generally a patient will beable to wear normal shoes following an ankle fusion. If however either the foot is very stiff, or on occasion far too mobile, some modification of footwear may sometimes be 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, however this is not always 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. Following an arthroscopic type ankle fusion you would usually 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 shoewear but this is unusual.

What will I be able to do after an Ankle Fusion?

A patient is 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. Furthermore a patient would generally be able to break into a short light jog but the ability to run following an ankle fusion is not unheard of.

How successful is Ankle Fusion?

The success rates for ankle fusion vary depending on the technique used and also a number of 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.  One of the major factors that would be discussed prior to surgery would be active smoking after the procedure.  Smoking is known to have a significant detrimental affect upon bone union following an ankle fusion plus mobilising and weight bearing at a rate beyond which the ankle fusion can tolerate, especially in the early stages post-operation can lead to issues with recovery.

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 or walk, 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 footwear 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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