If your ankle joint has been deformed by acute trauma or arthritis, you may be susceptible to a number of painful foot conditions, like chronic tendon ruptures or partial foot dislocations. Certain nonoperative treatments can try to correct this deformity, but oftentimes when it gets bad enough, surgery is the preferred route. In these instances, a foot and ankle specialist often opts for what’s known as a triple arthrodesis operation. We take a closer look at the procedure and how it is performed in today’s blog.
The Triple Arthrodesis Procedure
The triple arthrodesis procedure provides stability and corrects deformities in the ankle joint by fusing the three main joints in your hindfoot that allow for side-to-side movement. Those three joints are:
The calcaneo-cuboid joint
The subtalar joint
The talovicular joint
Once these areas have been fused and after the patient has progressed through rehabilitation, normal use of the foot is restored. But how exactly is the procedure conducted?
The surgeon and their team will begin by administering anesthesia so that you will not feel any pain during the procedure. A small incision is then made on the outside of the foot, just below the ankle, and another incision is made on the inside of the ankle. This will allow the surgeon to visualize the surgical site and remove any cartilage that remains so that the fusion can be completed.
To correct the hindfoot deformity, the surgeon will use screws, plates or other surgical hardware to stabilize the area. Next, a bone graft is inserted to allow the bones to slowly fuse together over time. Tendon balancing is also performed to help ensure they can operate correctly and can support the foot. Once the surgeon is satisfied with the positioning of the hardware and grafts, the incisions are closed with sutures or surgical staples and the foot will be placed in a brace, cast or another protective device.
You’ll stay at the surgical center or be admitted to a care facility for 1-3 days immediately following the procedure. You’ll have a number of post-op visits to check on your progress, but don’t expect to be doing much activity while the fusion sites heal. Weight bearing can begin at six weeks post-op if approved by your surgeon or your care team. You may be transitioned to a walking boot or crutches at this time.
From there, it’s a waiting game as you allow the surgical site to heal while slowly working to strengthen the area with physical therapy or targeted exercises. Total recovery can take anywhere from 9-12 months or longer, but you’ll have a couple follow-ups with your surgeon during this time to assess your progress and give you some feedback on your healing. While the procedure does have a lengthy recovery time, it also has a high rate of success, especially considering the pain and deformity that existed prior to the operation.
Dr. Silverman and his team have successfully performed countless triple arthrodesis procedures, and he can do the same for you if your foot has become misshapen or chronically painful due to injury or arthritis. For more information or to contact his office, give them a call today at (952) 224-8500.