The tibia (shinbone), talus (lower part of the ankle joint) and fibula (smaller bone in the lower leg) are the bones that construct the ankle joint. Your ligaments border these bones on either side, holding them together to provide stability. Meanwhile the tendons connect the muscles to the bone and are responsible for the ankle and toe movements.
Covering your bones is a smooth substance called cartilage, which acts as a cushion to reduce the friction between your bones as they move. If your cartilage wears down, arthritis can develop and cause loss of motion and pain.
Today, an increasing number of patients in the U.S. undergo this surgery to help them regain motion and reduce pain.1
Unlike an ankle fusion, an ankle replacement removes the diseased portions of the bone and replaces them with metal and high medical quality plastic components. This allows patients to retain more of their natural anatomy and movement while reducing pain.2-8
Patients will undergo anesthesia or a nerve block and can expect to be in the operating room between two and three hours. The surgeon will make an incision either at the front or the side of the ankle, depending on the type of implant. The diseased portions of the bones are removed and the metal and plastic implant components are placed accordingly. Once the implant is properly aligned, the wound is sealed and a splint is applied.
The Exactech Vantage® Total Ankle was created by a team of engineers and global surgeon leaders who are passionate about getting patients back to what they love.
What preparation is required prior to surgery?
In order to minimize risks, your surgeon may have you see your family physician before surgery to obtain tests. You also may need to have any upcoming dental work completed or prepare your home to avoid any post-surgery falls.
How long will my joint replacement last?
There are numerous factors that affect the longevity of a total joint replacement including patient indications (age, weight and activity level), implant design and materials used during surgery.
Just like your natural joint, the components of an artificial implant are subject to wear over time from friction caused by bending, straightening and supporting your body weight.
What is recovery like after joint replacement?
The recovery time for an ankle replacement can be six to 12 months. Patients will typically spend between one and three days in the hospital and will wear a brace or cast boot for up to 12 weeks.
Recovery will require physical therapy, which will help with circulation, muscle strength and joint motion.
What activities can be resumed after surgery?
Be sure to follow instructions from your physician, including any weight-bearing limitations, on the types of activities you can resume after surgery. You should also do your prescribed physical therapy exercises, so you can continue along the road to recovery. Most patients should be able to return to weight-bearing activities a few weeks post-surgery if the x-Rays show proper healing.
- Gould JS, Alvine FG, Mann RA, Sanders RW, Walling AK. Total ankle replacement: a surgical discussion. Part II. The clinical and surgical experience. AM J Orthop. 2000;29(9):675-682.
- Pyevich MT, Saltzman CL, Callaghan JJ, Alvine FG. Total ankle arthroplasty: a unique design. Two to twelve-year follow-up. J Bone Joint Am. 1998; 80 (10):1410-20.
- Saltzman CL et al. Prospective controlled trial of STAR total ankle replacement versus ankle fusion: initial results. Foot & Ankle International. 2009; 30(7).
- San Giovanni TP, Keblish DJ, Thomas WH, Wilson MG. Eight-year results of a minimally constrained total ankle arthroplasty. Foot & Ankle International. 2006; 27(9).
- Nunley JA, Caputo AM, Easley ME, Cook C. Intermediate to long-term outcomes of the STAR total ankle replacement: the patient perspective. J Bone Joint Surg Am. 2012; 94 (1):43-48.
- Mann JA, Mann RA, Horton E. STAR™ ankle: long-term results. Foot & Ankle International. 2011; 32 (5).
- Data on file at Exactech.