How is an ankle arthroscopy done?
The ankle joint has small internal dimensions under normal circumstances. To produce sufficient space in which to perform the ankle arthroscopy procedure and avoid damaging the joint surfaces with instruments, it is necessary to "stretch open" the joint. This is achieved under anaesthesia by using a combination of traction across the joint and distending the joint by infusing sterile fluid under pressure.
Most ankle arthroscopy is performed under general, or occasionally regional, anaesthesia. Firstly when setting up the patient a padded bar is placed behind the thigh as shown below.
Next a strap is placed around the ankle and connected to a second bar distant from the first which is attached to the operating table and allows traction to be placed across the ankle. In this way the ankle is stretched open sufficiently to allow a space with sufficient dimensions in which to operate.
In particular, in order to avoid damage to the joint surfaces, sterile fluid is infused under pressure into the ankle joint at the same time.
The setup for ankle arthroscopy
showing the Smith and Nephew
Ankle distraction system
The components of the Smith and Nephew ankle distraction system.