Ankle Arthroscopy


An ankle arthroscopy can be used to treat various injuries and disorders of the ankle. These include:

  • Synovitis. Synovitis is inflammation of the lining of the ankle joint (synovium). This can cause pain, swelling, and limit movement of the ankle. Synovitis may occur from an injury, arthritis or overuse. Arthroscopy can be used to remove the inflamed synovium.
  • Impingement. Impingement of the ankle can occur in the front (anterolateral or anterior impingement) or back of the ankle (posterior ankle impingement). It can cause pain and limit movement of the ankle. Arthroscopy can be used to remove the source of the pain.
  • Osteochondritis dissecans
  • Loose bodies. Sometimes a loose piece of bone or cartilage can dislodge from within the ankle joint. This piece can be removed with arthroscopy
  • Infection. Infections can sometimes occur in the ankle joint either from a previous surgery or from spreading from another place in the body. Arthroscopy may be used to remove infectious tissue and to clean the joint with water to aid in removing the infection.
  • Ankle arthritis. Arthroscopy may be used clean bone spurs, and inflamed tissue or loose cartilage associated with ankle arthritis. This does not fix the arthritis but may potentially help in temporarily improving pain. In very specific situations, arthroscopy may be used to perform an ankle fusion, which is one type of surgical treatment for ankle arthritis.
  • Ankle instability. Arthroscopy may be used to address ankle instability. This often requires tightening of the ligaments of the outside of the ankle (lateral ligament reconstruction).
  • Ankle fractures. Some ankle fractures extend into the ankle joint itself. Ankle arthroscopy can help ensure the break is aligned correctly.


Performed usually under General anaesthetic with local anaesthetic block to reduce postoperative pain. Usually performed as a day case procedure.

Ankle arthroscopy typically involves two small incisions in the front of the ankle. Through one of the incisions a pencil-sized camera is placed in the ankle. The camera can project the live images from the ankle onto a television type monitor. The surgeon can then see inside the ankle by looking at the images on the monitor. Through the second incision small instruments, which have various purposes (shaving, scraping, biting etc.) can be placed in the ankle. This technique can be used to address many different problems of the ankle.


The recovery after an ankle arthroscopy will depend on the type of surgery performed. Usually dissolvable stitch is placed in each incision. The patients wound will be inspected in about 2 weeks. After surgery, some will be placed in a removable boot after and will be allowed to walk immediately. In other cases, a plaster will be applied, and the patient will stay off the leg for a period of time. This can typically range from 2-6 weeks. 

Potential General Complications

The complication risks from ankle arthroscopy are very low, but can include:

  • Infection
  • Wound Healing Problems
  • Blood Vessel Injury
  • Nerve Injury
  • Breakage of Instruments in the Ankle
  • Deep Vein Thrombosis (Blood Clot)
  • Pulmonary Embolism (PE)
  • Complex Regional Pain Syndrome
  • Failure to Resolve ALL Symptoms


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