Transfibular ankle fusion is a surgical procedure used to repair a severely damaged ankle joint due to arthritis or a more traumatic ankle injury. The operation uses a transfibular method, which involves cutting off the lower end of the fibula and fusing the ankle bones. The ankle will only be able to move from side to side, but not up and down.
The procedure begins by positioning the patient in a way that all sides of the foot are clearly visible and accessible to the podiatric surgeon. After that, a general anesthesia is administered, and the area is thoroughly cleaned, sterilized, and prepared for an incision.
The podiatric surgeon then makes an incision along the outer side of the ankle in order to expose the joint. Once exposed, the end of the fibula is removed. In some cases, a second incision is made in order to remove the bony bump on the inner side of the ankle.
The procedure continues with a removal of damaged bone and cartilage from the end of the tibia and the talus. Following that, the bones are reshaped and adjusted for proper alignment. Bone grafts taken from the removed fibula may also be required in order to achieve good positioning.
Once the ankle is properly positioned, the podiatric surgeon stabilizes the tibia and the talus with screws, fixation plates, or a combination of both. The incision is then closed using sutures or surgical staples, the ankle is bandaged, and the foot is placed in a cast. Over time, the tibia and the talus will fuse together permanently.
After the transfibular ankle fusion, a patient can, usually, go home after a short monitoring period. In the following six to eight weeks, crutches are required. Physical therapy may also be recommended. Full recovery is expected in three to six months.