Ankle Replacement Surgery

How Does Your Ankle Work?

Your ankle is made up of bones, ligaments, tendons and cartilage that connect where your foot meets your leg. The joint works like a hinge. It lets your foot move up and down.

The bones in your ankle joint are the shinbone (tibia), the lower part of the ankle joint (talus) and the smaller bone in the lower leg (fibula). Your ligaments hold these bones together and keep them stable. Tendons connect your muscles to the bone. Tendons help your ankle and toes move.

A thin, smooth liner called cartilage covers your bones. Cartilage acts like a cushion and releases a special fluid to lubricate the ankle. This reduces friction, or rubbing, between your bones as they move.

If you have ankle pain, you may have wear and tear on your bones or cartilage. Most of the time, this damage is caused by ankle arthritis. Arthritis starts after years of non-stop movement and pressure on your ankle joint. It can damage your protective cartilage, which makes it hurt to move your leg or foot.

Some non-surgical treatment options are medicine, physical therapy or lifestyle changes, like losing weight. If those don’t provide relief, your doctor may recommend total ankle replacement surgery.

What is Ankle Replacement Surgery?

Ankle replacement has been around for more than 30 years. But, it didn’t become popular until the 1990s when the surgical technology and tools became more advanced.1

Today, more and more patients in the United States have ankle surgery to help them feel better and move more easily.2

One type of ankle surgery is an ankle fusion. With an ankle fusion surgery, two or more bones in the ankle are joined together.

An ankle replacement surgery is different. During a total ankle replacement surgery, a doctor takes out the damaged parts of your ankle joint and replaces them with new parts. This lets you keep more of your natural bone while helping your ankle move like it should.3-8

When a surgeon replaces the damaged parts with new parts, they help your ankle move like it should.

During ankle replacement surgery, your doctor will:

  • Put you under anesthesia or use a nerve block.
  • Make a cut so they can get to your ankle joint.
  • Remove the damaged parts of your bones or cartilage.
  • Replace the removed parts with metal and plastic implants.
  • Seal the wound and apply a splint or cast.
Exactech Vantage Mobile Bearing Ankle Implant

Exactech Vantage Total Ankle Replacement System

Getting you back on your feet – one step at a time

The Exactech Vantage® Total Ankle was created by a team of engineers and surgeon leaders from around the world. These experts are passionate about helping ankle patients get back to what they love.

Some of the unique features of Exactech’s Vantage Ankle Replacement System include:

A curved shape designed to match your ankle bone structure8

The latest advances in total ankle research to support your natural movements9

Options for different types of ankle surgery

With any surgery, there are potential risks, and results will vary depending on the patient. Joint replacement surgery is not for everyone. Check with your physician to determine if you are a candidate for joint replacement surgery. Your physician will consider the risks and benefits associated with this procedure, as well as individual factors such as the cause of your condition, your age, height, weight and activity level.


The information contained within this website is for educational purposes only and is not providing medical advice. This information is not intended to replace the expert guidance of your orthopaedic surgeon. Please direct any questions or concerns you may have to your orthopaedic surgeon. Decisions concerning patient care and treatment should be made solely by your physician(s). With any surgery, there are potential risks and results will vary depending on the patient.

  1. The next big thing: opportunities and innovations in total ankle arthroplasty. 2011 Jan 1.
  2. Total ankle arthroplasty. Retrieved from: https://www.aofas.org/footcaremd/treatments/Pages/Total-Ankle-Arthroplasty.aspx.
  3. Mann JA, Mann RA, Horton E (2011) Start ankle: long-term results. Foot Ankle Int 32:S473-S484.
  4. Arthritis of the foot and ankle.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Data on file at Exactech, Inc.
  8. Gougoulias NE, Khanna A, Maffulli N. History and evolution in total ankle arthroplasty. British Medical Bulletin. 2009;89:111-51. Epub 2008 Nov 16. doi:10.1093/bmb/ldn039.
  9. Siegler S, Toy J, Seale D, Pedowitz D. New observations on the morphology of the talar dome and its relationship to ankle kinematics. Clinical Biomechanics. 2014;29:1-6.