Ankle Arthroscopy, Candles and Mirrors to See Inside Your Ankle?

Knee scopes are one of the most common procedures offered from Orthopedic Surgeons for a multitude of knee complaints. The use of a “scope” or “arthroscopic” surgeries has made an increase in the foot and ankle. Arthroscopic literally means to look inside of a joint. This is done with the use of a very small, lighted tube, roughly the size of a lollipop stick, to look inside of the ankle. This is done through a very small, 5mm stab incision. Another small stab incision allows the entrance of other surgical instrumentation.

Interestingly, from a historical perspective, the lighting to view the joint has grown from reflected sunlight, candles, burning filaments, gas and electric lamps to today’s fiber-optic lights. These powerful fiber-optic lights illuminate inside of the joint while fitting inside of the small camera. To view the joint began with the naked eye and then employed lenses and has developed today into high-definition camera lenses. These cameras project the small area onto larger high definition screens. Technology today allows the use of smaller arthroscopic instrumentation with more and more procedures.

Ankle scopes are used today for a variety of ankle issues. Simple entrance into the ankle joint allows diagnosis of ankle pathology. The surgeon can visualize directly what an MRI or X-Ray may possibly miss. Many ankle complaints can be from previous ankle injuries that result in inflammatory or arthritic changes to the ankle joint. These injuries are easy to treat by simply entering the joint and smoothing the ankle joint defects and any excessive soft tissue linings. Any spurring on the bones of the ankle joint can be smoothed as well, while avoiding a large open incision.

Unfortunately, true ankle arthritis cannot be cured by any procedures, scopes or otherwise. Arthritis is an irreversible problem with treatments aimed mainly at symptoms. Steroid injections can help reduce inflammation to the joint, but scopes actually enter and clean up some of the painful tissue associated with arthritis. Eventually, painful arthritic ankles that fail conservative treatment are destined for either ankle joint fusions or total replacements.

Patients are permitted to bear weight immediately after surgery, however some recommend partial weight bearing for the first 2 weeks. Range of motion ankle therapy exercises are encouraged as soon as tolerable. Sutures are to remain in place for 10-14 days.

Ankle arthroscopy has improved by leaps and bounds over the last 50 years and will continue with an increase in surgeon competency and education and with improvements in technology. Ankle arthroscopy can provide a minimally invasive answer to ankle pain and avoid ankle fusion or replacement for chronic ankle arthritis.

For more information on ankle scopes and ankle pain please contact Dr. Aleisha Allen DPM by calling (713) 467-8886 or visit our website for online appointments at

Category: Ankle Pain

Tags: ankle injuries, ankle pain, Ankle Problems, Ankle Surgery, Arthritis, Arthroscopic Surgery