Ankle Arthroscopy


Arthroscopic surgery of the ankle is used to treat some cartilage and joint lining problems.

Some bone spurs in the ankle, and some loose bodies can be treated with arthroscopic surgery. Osteochondral lesions of the talus are often treated with arthroscopic surgery.

The surgery is done as an outpatient, and you will require a general anesthetic. You will have two small scars at the front of the ankle from the portals, one medial and one lateral.

Day of Surgery

At the end of the surgical procedure the wounds are covered, a soft dressing is applied, and taped in place. That dressing gives support to your ankle, holding it securely. You should leave that in place until I change it at the first post-operative office visit.

You will be given crutches at the surgery center, and I want you to not put any weight on that leg during the first week. Do not walk on the dressings.

Look here for things to watch for after outpatient surgery.

Post-operative Course

Dealing with post-operative pain will be your major concern for the first few days.

Most people find that for the first few days after surgery their foot will feel better if it is elevated. Generally, if you let it hang down for any period of time it will throb and you may have more swelling. You can put it into whatever position feels best, but usually that will be elevated with a pillow under the foot.

The first post-operative visit is usually 7 – 10 days after surgery. I will remove the dressings, wash your leg, and take out the skin stitches.

The findings at surgery will determine how you are then treated. In some cases I will ask you to continue to use crutches, and remain non-weightbearing for a total of 6 weeks after surgery. In other instances I will prescribe a CAM Walker, a removable walking boot, and you will use that for protected weightbearing until 6 weeks after surgery. That may be removed for bathing, when sleeping at night, and to do gentle active exercises.

After 6 weeks a shoe may be worn for walking. Running and jumping activities should be avoided until 3 - 4 months after surgery.

Final Results

The goal of the surgery is to leave you with a painless ankle that will allow normal activities. You should be able to regain full strength and power in the leg, and have no restriction of motion. Some patients will have some mild soreness still. Some will notice discomfort when the weather changes. The findings at surgery will determine how well you will ultimately function.


Complications can occur with any surgery. Go here for a general discussion of Surgical Complications.

Specific risks of this surgery include superficial peroneal nerve injury with numbness or pain over the top of the foot, and persistent ankle pain.

George Lian, M.D.

2801 K Street, Suite #500
Sacramento, CA 95816

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Phone: (916) 732-3340 

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