The 26 Review
- What is an Ankle Sprain Repair Reconstructive surgery of the injured ankle ligaments below the ankle joint
- How Injured ligaments are repaired directly with sutures or tendon transfers.
- Why To strengthen and stabilize the ankle
- Recommended for Patients with pain, swelling, lack of stability, and recurrent ankle sprains
- Length of Treatment This procedure takes 1-2 hours to complete.
- Downtime 4-6 weeks. Can return to low impact sports after 6 weeks
Let’s take a closer look…
An ankle ligament repair is a procedure typically done to treat serious sprains and/or instability within the ankle. The ligaments in the foot and ankle consist of the anterior talofibular ligament (ATFL) and the calcaneofibular ligament (CFL). These ligaments are crucial in keeping the ankle and foot stable and strong when individuals walk, job, run, or jump. When sprains occur, the ligaments stretch beyond their normal capacity and/or tear. Ankle sprains can range from mild to severe and in most cases, sprains do not require surgery. However, in more serious cases, ligament repair surgery may be recommended. Individuals experiencing the following symptoms can be good candidates for ligament surgery: experience chronic pain in the foot or ankle, suffer from repeated ankle sprains, and have an ankle that gives out when walking, running, or exercising. A musculoskeletal ultrasound or MRI is used to create images of soft tissues in the foot and ankle, such as ligaments, tendons, muscles, and nerves. These diagnostic tools provide detailed images within the ankle and foot, revealing the extent of the damage. If you or someone you know have recurrent ankle sprain or instability, continue reading on to learn if discussing surgery with your podiatrist is the right plan of action.
Procedure Details: Pre, During & Post Surgery Expectations
To prepare for lateral ankle ligament reconstruction surgery, speak with your Podiatrist for a personalized plan. In most cases, individuals will be asked to halt medications like anti-inflammatories and blood thinners. Patients may also be asked to stop smoking 2 weeks prior to the procedure, in order to prevent infection. It is important to tell your healthcare provider about all medications you’re taking, as well as any changes in your overall health, like a recent fever. Before the procedure, advanced imaging tests, X-rays, MRI, or ultrasound will be performed. Patients should not eat or drink anything 6-8 hours before the procedure. In addition, this is an outpatient procedure, so it’s critical to make a plan for returning home, as well as how you’ll get around your home.
There are a few different methods for a lateral ankle ligament reconstruction, so be sure to ask your medical provider for the details of your surgery. Before the surgery begins, patients will receive regional anesthesia to numb the involved ankle. In conjunction, general anesthesia will be provided, in order to put the patient to sleep. During the surgery, the surgeon will clean the affected area and then cut through the skin and muscle of the ankle. The surgeon may remove the damaged portions of ATFL and CFL ankle ligaments to facilitate healing. The ligaments may be repaired end to end or reattached to the fibula using a small hole drilled into the bone. If necessary, other repairs can be made at this time too. The layers of skin and muscle around the ankle will then be surgical closed with sutures.
After surgery, the patient will be monitored for a few hours before being released to go home. The ankle will be placed in a split or cast. Patients should expect to have some level of pain following the surgery, especially for the first few days. Pain medications will be prescribed to relieve one’s pain. The medical professional will provide instructions about medicines and wound care. It is crucial to keep the leg elevated to help reduce swelling and pain. Most patients will usually need to use crutches after surgery to keep weight off the ankle and foot. If you develop a high fever, chills, or increasing pain in the ankle, contact your medical professional immediately. 10 days after the surgery, the stitches will be removed and at this time, the splint may be replaced with a boot or cast. Generally, patients are able to resume activities after 5-6 weeks, while 12 weeks of rest and elevation are helpful for proper and full healing of the ligament. Physical therapy may be recommended to regain strength, stability, and mobility in the ankle and foot.
Benefits and Risk Factors
Every surgery has its risks and benefits. The main benefits for this surgery include reduced pain and swelling and increased stability, strength, and mobility. Some potential complications can include excessive bleeding, nerve damage, infection, stiffness in the ankle joint, blood clots, and issues with anesthesia. An individual’s risk for complications depends on their age, anatomy of their foot, and their general health, and extent of tissue damage. Consider speaking with your Podiatrist about any concerns and questions you may have.