Great strides in ankle replacement surgery - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Great strides in ankle replacement surgery

Total ankle replacement is catching up to successful knee and hip surgeries.  (Source: WAFF) Total ankle replacement is catching up to successful knee and hip surgeries.  (Source: WAFF)
DECATUR, AL (WAFF) -

Dr. Justin Daigre is an orthopedic surgeon specializing in foot and ankle surgery. 

He says major strides are being made when it comes to total ankle replacement surgery.  

"Historically it's been ankle fusion, which is very reliable - but it eliminates motion, and that's what people didn't like," he said.

Now, total ankle replacement is catching up to successful knee and hip surgeries.         

"It's very similar to if the knee wears out, what they call the bone-on-bone, we look for those things on x-ray. If patients have that, then they could be a candidate for a total ankle [replacement]," said Dr. Daigre.

The actual time the person is in surgery is surprisingly short. The doctor says they're actually on the table about 2 hours.

Daigre says there are several different types of implants. Most go through the front of the ankle to implant the device.  

"There's one specific one that goes up the big shin bone," he explained. "This is the one where you have to go through the bottom of the foot and put it into place. And we think that one can be a lot more stable for someone who has a lot of deformities.     

"We usually cut out the arthritis," he continued. "The we put real metal and plastic in. Very similar to the knee. Then close everything up and give it time to heal... and then get them moving."

And as far as recuperation, the front incision must heal first then rehab and physical therapy is involved.

"To get their normal life back is usually about a 4-month period," he said.

So how do you know if you are a candidate?   

"The ideal patient would be one that is a little bit older and a very active. It's that patient who wants to preserve their motion so that they still can do some of those activities," said the doctor.

Taking steps to fix a potentially crippling situation can make a big difference in the quality of day to day living.  

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