Although not as common as hip and knee arthritis, cases of “wear and tear” ankle arthritis are increasing. Studies have shown that the pain and disability caused by end-stage ankle arthritis, where the cartilage that cushions the ankle bones has worn away, has the same impact on quality of life as arthritis of the hip and knee and it is therefore important that this condition should be treated accordingly. But, whereas hip replacement surgery has been around for over fifty years until recently the only surgical treatment available for ankle arthritis was fusion, which involves removing the damaged joint and fusing the leg and ankle bones.
However, a growing number of orthopaedic surgeons are now recommending total ankle replacement surgery or TAR as a safe and effective alternative to fusion surgery. This is largely due to the fact that over recent years there have been improvements made to both the design and materials used for ankle implants and surgical techniques have also been refined.
Consultant Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Surgeon, Mr Amit Amin, explains as follows: “Total Ankle Replacement surgery began in the 1970’s however the design of the original implants could not match the complexity of the ankle joint. As a result the implants had a high failure rate and this type of surgery was therefore not successful."
“In recent years new implant design and instrumentation combined with improved specialist foot and ankle training have made total ankle replacement a safe and viable option for people suffering from end-stage arthritis of the ankle.”