What is ankle arthroscopy? Ankle arthroscopy surgery is a minimally invasive type of surgery performed to help alleviate ankle pain.  Small incisions are made about the ankle and a camera is used to look inside the ankle.

Injuries like the osteochondral injury of your talus, ankle fractures, forms of tendonitis, ankle impingement, and ankle sprains are some of the causes of ankle or foot conditions that may require arthroscopy procedure. In some cases, ankle arthroscopy can become an alternative treatment method to open ankle surgery.

Arthroscopy plays a critical role in diagnosing and treating different ankle joint disorders. 

Some of these problems may include:

Ankle arthritis: This is condition refers to end-stage ankle arthritis. The procedure applied in treating ankle arthritis is called ankle fusion, and it involves ankle arthroscopy. This treatment option provides a minimally invasive way of performing ankle fusion. 

Ankle fractures: Your surgeon may suggest ankle arthroscopy along with the open surgical procedure to repair an ankle fracture. This treatment procedure ensures normal alignment of cartilage and bone within your ankle. It also helps locate injured cartilage inside the ankle when performing ankle cartilage repair

Ankle instability: Whenever your ligaments stretch out (within the ankle), they can make you feel like the ankle is giving way. Your orthopedic surgeon can use the ankle arthroscopy technique to repair damaged ligaments or tighten them through surgery. The arthroscopic technique is the ultimate solution to treating moderate instability in your foot. 

Reasons for Ankle Arthroscopy

You need to know that not every ankle pain problem is treatable by an arthroscopic procedure. However, there are numerous reasons why you should opt for ankle cartilage repair, ankle debridement, or knee scraping surgery

Some of these reasons include:

  1. Restoration of Your Ankle Cartilage Damage

Sustaining injury on your ankle joint can cause cartilage damage. If you don’t get treated at the right time, your ankle cartilage may cause generalized arthritis around the ankle joint. With ankle arthroscopy, our surgeon Dr. Christopher L. Dillingham at Sforzo | Dillingham | Stewart Orthopedics + Sports Medicine, will be able to assess the injured areas of your cartilage damage before restoring the normal cartilage surface to the ankle joint. In this case, your Ankle cartilage repair may involve stimulating new cartilage growth using a microfracture, chondrocyte implantation, or cartilage transfer. Alternatively, your surgeon will repair the damaged cartilage surgically. 

  1. Removal of Bone Spurs in Your Ankle Joint

Sometimes bone spurs may form in the front of your ankle joint. This formation of bone spurs causes your ankle to pinch whenever you push your foot towards the shin. Another name of this condition is anterior ankle impingement syndrome, footballer’s ankle, or athlete’s ankle. To remove these floating bone chips in the ankle, you need to go for ankle arthroscopy. In addition, the removal of bone spurs from your anterior ankle can help improve the motion of your ankle joint. 

  1. Surgical Removal of Inflamed Synovium

Synovitis describes the inflammation of soft tissue lining around your ankle joint or synovium. This type of inflammation can easily manifest as ankle swelling after knee surgery, pain, or complete loss of motion. Synovitis occurs due to acute trauma, rheumatoid arthritis (inflammatory arthritis), and degenerative joint disease or osteoarthritis. Ankle arthroscopy can help remove inflamed synovium. 

Ankle Arthroscopy Diagnosis

Before the treatment for your injured  ankle starts, the surgeon will perform some diagnostic tests such as:

  1. X-ray: Usually, the X-ray provides images of bones within the ankle. In the case of a broken bone joint, your orthopedic surgeon will be able to point out the exact place that needs arthroscopic surgery.
  2. MRI: Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is another test that your surgeon will perform to rule out other problems that may affect your ankle. This non-invasive imaging technology produces clear three-dimensional detailed images for effective diagnosis of the injured ankle.
  3. EMG: Electromyography is a diagnostic procedure that Dr. Christopher L. Dillingham at Sforzo | Dillingham | Stewart Orthopedics + Sports Medicine performs to assess the condition of the muscles and nerve cells around the ankle. Your surgeon will identify damaged muscles, nerve cells, and even ligaments within the ankle through EMG.

Ankle Arthroscopy Treatment


Surgical procedure using ankle arthroscopy with debridement is carried out under regional or general anesthesia. Once adequate anesthesia is administered, the surgeon creates an incision or “portal” that provides access to the damaged ankle joint. Mostly, portals are strategically placed in a specific location to help minimize the potential for damage to surrounding blood vessels, tendons, and nerves. These portals also reduce the size of ankle surgery scars after recovery. 

The procedure of Ankle Arthroscopy

During the ankle arthroscopy procedure, your surgeon will follow these steps:

  1. Adequate regional or general anesthesia is established, followed by the application of a tourniquet.
  2. The leg is propped and draped carefully in a sterile fashion.
  3. Mechanical distraction devices are used to help the surgeon temporarily enlarge the space of the injured ankle.
  4. At least two small incisions are made. One incision is used to insert a small camera, while the other is for inserting surgical instruments.
  5. Sterile fluid can flow inside the ankle via the incisions to further open the joint.
  6. At the end of the procedure, the surgeon places small sutures in the skin to secure or close the portals.
  7. A sterile compressive dressing, a boot, or splint is applied before taking you to a recovery area.

This procedure applies to both right and left ankle arthroscopy.

Risks of Ankle Arthroscopy Surgery

Just like other ankle surgery types, ankle arthroscopy has its own risks. Ankle swelling after the surgery and visible ankle surgery scar are some of the common risks that come with this procedure. Other risks include injuries to the tendons or nerves surrounding the ankle joint, damage, and infections to the ankle joint cartilage. 

Post-Operative Care of Ankle Arthroscopy Surgery 

Post ankle arthroscopy surgery care includes:

  • Elevation of the affected leg
  • Taking oral pain killer medications for several days
  • Restriction of bearing weight on the injured leg
  • Progressive weight-bearing with crutches
  • Active range of motion as part of physical therapy
  • Progressive strengthening routine
  • Routine follow-up with your doctor

Find the Best Ankle Arthroscopy Center near me in Sarasota, Florida

At Sforzo I Dillingham I Stewart  Orthopedics + Sports Medicine in Sarasota, Florida, our doctors specialize in performing different types of surgical operations, including ankle arthroscopy. The doctors go the extra mile to help those suffering from ankle pain (due to injury or trauma) get the expert care and treatment you deserve. 

Our surgeon Dr. Christopher L. Dillingham at Sforzo | Dillingham | Stewart Orthopedics + Sports Medicine, works hard with patients to determine the most appropriate treatment option for their condition. At Sforzo I Dillingham I Stewart Orthopedics you will get expert medical care and treatment in line with your ankle injury. All doctors are board-certified and fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeons with many years of experience in performing technically difficult surgical procedures. 

Final Thought

Arthroscopic ankle surgery is a treatment option for different types of ankle pain, including loose ankle, posterior ankle pain, and cartilage damage. During the surgery, a small incision is made by your surgeon to pave the way for the arthroscopy camera to be inserted inside the damaged ankle joint. These incisions also help your surgeon to insert surgical instruments to remove or repair damaged structures. 

Arthroscopy recovery time may vary depending on the nature of your ankle injury and damage to the cartilage. Typically, the ankle arthroscopy recovery time can range from three weeks to six weeks. For additional information on ankle arthroscopy surgery, contact Sforzo I Dillingham I Stewart  Orthopedics + Sports Medicine today.


Focusing On You

As healthcare is ever changing, Sforzo | Dillingham | Stewart Orthopedics + Sports Medicine, is doing things differently…

  • About Christopher R. Sforzo, M.D. Christopher R. Sforzo, M.D. is a board certified orthopedic surgeon and fellowship trained in hand and upper extremity surgery. He provides expert care in the treatment of problems involving the shoulder, arm, elbow, forearm, wrist and hand. He performs many procedures using mini
  • About Christopher L. Dillingham, M.D. Christopher L. Dillingham, M.D. is a board certified orthopedic surgeon and fellowship trained in hand, shoulder, and arm surgery. He specializes in the treatment of problems with rotator cuff disorders, carpal tunnel syndrome and nerve injury, joint replacement, arthritis sur
  • About Charles E. Stewart, M.D. Charles E. Stewart M.D. is a board-certified, Johns Hopkins fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeon specializing in adult complex reconstruction of the lower extremity.  His specialties include lower extremity sports injuries, meniscal injuries, ACL reconstruction, partial knee replacement,
  • About Philip A. Meinhardt, M.D. Philip A. Meinhardt, M.D. is a board certified orthopedic surgeon and fellowship trained spine surgeon. He specializes in adult spinal surgeries including reconstruction of spinal deformities, minimally invasive/microscopic spinal procedures, decompression, spinal instrumentation, fusion



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