Total Ankle Replacements
By Dr. Patrick Briggs, Podiatrist
1. Why would you need a Total Ankle Replacement?
Arthritis is the most common reason for a patient to need a total ankle replacement. Patients have pain and/or arthritis due to circumstances such as bad sprains, previous trauma, ankle fractures, rheumatoid arthritis and/or osteoarthritis. Others have post traumatic pain from athletics or previous accident where damage was done to the cartilage. We go through a series of conservative treatment options before a total ankle replacement may be warranted.
2. What are the signs and symptoms of someone who would need a total ankle replacement?
The patient may be progressively getting worse with more pain, often limping with swelling and aching that slows them down but doesn’t necessarily prevent them from their normal activities of daily living. It tends to be a progressive disease where symptoms may warrant a total ankle replacement. Patient may complain about swelling and pain within the ankle joint that tends to increase with increased activity.
3. How would the patient be diagnosed?
The clinical exam would elicit pinpoint tenderness over patient’s ankle joint, range of motion of the ankle would often be guarded and x-rays would confirm degree of treatment.
4. What would the treatment options be before surgery?
Surgery is the last option after we have worked together on decreasing pain and using less invasive options of treatment. We would start with anti-inflammatory medications, possible bracing, orthotics, injections into the arthritic site, physical therapy and strengthening. Plan would be directed to improve functionality of the ankle and to decrease pain.
5. Total Ankle Reconstruction information and outcomes.
In 2009, the total ankle replacement became FDA approved. There are three components to STAR Implant – the top piece goes into the tibia, the bottom piece goes into the talus and in the middle, is the polyethylene (white plastic) which allows the patient mobility in the joint. The STAR implant will allow the patient to point their foot up and down, left and right and rotate into full circles. The surgical procedure lasts about an hour and a half. The life span of the implant is 10 to 15 years long. There are a few other implants approved in the U.S. each with its certain advantages. They type of ankle replacement used is often determined by the surgeon’s preference.
6. What is the recovery on the Total Ankle Replacement surgery?
The patient will have two weeks of non-weight bearing, primarily to allow the incision to heal properly. After the two weeks, they will wear a protective weight bearing boot and then by week five they can wear their own tennis shoe.
About Dr. Patrick Briggs
Dr. Briggs is one of a few physicians that preforms this total ankle replacement in the Houston Bay Area. He has been practicing for the past fifteen years, specializing in Podiatry. He is board certified by The American Board of Podiatric Surgery in foot and reconstructive rear foot and ankle and is a fellow of the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons. Dr. Briggs specializes in all aspects of foot and ankle surgery including total ankle replacement and reconstruction, flatfoot, pediatrics, trauma, sports medicine and diabetic complications.
Call 281.724.0368 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Briggs.