Current Concepts In Ankle Arthroscopy

By Catherine Cheung, DPM

   Ankle arthroscopy is an extremely useful skill for a foot and ankle surgeon. Foot and ankle surgeons use ankle arthroscopies to treat a variety of problems, including osteochondral defects, loose osteochondral fragments, ankle impingement, post-traumatic fibrous bands, synovitis and ligamentous/capsular injuries.    Ankle arthroscopy has several advantages over an open ankle procedure. The surgery is minimally invasive and has a low complication rate. One can perform this on an outpatient basis and it facilitates a relatively easy postoperative recovery period. In contrast to an open ankle technique, arthroscopy allows complete ankle joint visualization and does not result in intraarticular scar tissue formation. Proficiency with ankle arthroscopy develops with good training and experience.

There is a learning curve with ankle arthroscopy that surgeons cannot overcome simply by enrolling in a weekend learning course. It is important to master the instrumentation and develop the skills necessary to visualize three dimensionally. Much of the difficulty lies in being able to move and triangulate the instruments appropriately without actually looking at one’s hands, which is counterintuitive for a surgeon. Utilizing cadaver labs and assisting other surgeons in ankle arthroscopy are the most helpful ways to improve one’s skills.

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