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 increased 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 incision. Another small 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. Viewing 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 can not 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. Stem cell therapy is the newest treatment for arthritis and is utilized by injecting cells to the damaged joint surface. This is theorized to cure damaged joint surfaces.
Patients are permitted to bear weight immediately after surgery, however some recommend partial weightbearing 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 pain, ankle arthroscopy or ankle scopes please contact:
Dr. Marcin N. Vaclaw
9191 Pinecroft Dr #225
The Woodlands, TX 77386