Ankle Arthroscopy

This surgery uses small instruments and a camera to learn the cause of and treat problems in the ankle joint.

This surgery uses small instruments and a camera to learn the cause of and treat problems in the ankle joint.

An ankle arthroscopy is a minimally invasive surgical procedure that uses small medical instruments and a camera to learn the cause of and treat problems in the ankle joint. These problems may include arthritis, fractures and infections. The instruments are inserted through several small incisions made in different areas of the ankle.

  • The ankle is a complex weight-bearing joint that is made up of many parts. These parts include bones, tendons, ligaments and cartilage.
  • The structure and functions of the ankle make it prone to conditions such as arthritis and many types of injuries.

An arthroscopy of an ankle may be needed to learn the cause of, and treat, persistent pain in the ankle joint. The pain may be due to an injury or problems with the structures in the ankle.

Before undergoing a surgical procedure, you may be given some instructions to decrease your symptoms and prevent further injury to your ankle joint. These may include:

  • Applying ice
  • Using over-the-counter medications
  • Not putting full weight on your leg
  • Using crutches or an ankle immobilizer

Prior to the procedure, tell your healthcare provider about any medications you are taking (including over-the-counter medications and supplements). Ask about specific instructions you should follow before the procedure. These may include:

  • Medications you should not take before the surgery, such as blood thinners or aspirin
  • Regular medications you should continue to take on the day of your surgery
  • How many hours you should stop eating and drinking before surgery

If you are a smoker, you should quit smoking, as it can interfere with your recovery.

During your arthroscopy, you will receive anesthesia to keep you comfortable and pain free. Anesthesia may include one of the following:

  • Regional anesthesia, which is a technique that numbs your ankle. You may also be given a relaxing medication given through an IV (a small needle placed in your vein). You will be awake during surgery.
  • Spinal anesthesia, which involves an injection of numbing medication into your back. You may also be given a relaxing medication through an IV (a small needle placed in your vein). You will be awake during surgery, but will not feel anything below your waist.
  • General anesthesia, which is a treatment that includes medicines to put you into a deep sleep. You are unable to see, hear, or feel anything.

You will probably go home the day of your surgery.

  • You may need to take pain medication, use crutches and attend physical therapy to help your ankle regain normal strength and mobility.
  • You may also need help at home for a few days.
  • Do not forget to arrange for transportation to and from the facility and help at home.

What should I ask my healthcare provider before having an ankle arthroscopy?

  • What is my diagnosis and reason for the surgery? Do I have arthritis in my ankle?
  • Is non-surgical treatment an option? If so, what kind? How long should I try non-surgical treatment before revisiting the option of surgery?
  • What are the pros and cons of surgery?
  • Do I need to fast before the surgery? If so, for how long?
  • Is there any other special preparation for the surgery? (If so, get clear instructions on what you need to do.)
  • What kind of sedation will I have? What are the possible side effects?
  • What are the possible complications to the surgery?
  • How will I feel after the surgery? Will I have to modify my activity?
  • How long will it take me to recover?

After your surgery, you should know what you had done, what medication was given, and what symptoms you should report to your healthcare provider. You should also understand all home care instructions (including medications and side effects) and follow-up plans.


Also known as:

Hurt Ankle
Ankle Pain
Ankle Injury
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