Foot Fusion Procedure
The foot has 26 bones, and can be divided into the hindfoot, midfoot and forefoot.
Arthritis of the Foot
Osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis or other conditions may damage these joints that these bones form. The joints may wear out, collapse, cause severe foot deformity and affect the function of the foot.
Foot fusion procedures are surgical procedures that fuse the bones of the foot to overcome the painful movement and correct deformities in the region.
Indications for Foot Fusion
Foot fusion is indicated when conservative approaches, such as medications, steroid injections, activity modifications, custom orthotics and modified footwear, fail to provide pain relief. The fusion can treat foot deformity and arthritic joints.
Foot Fusion Procedure
Foot fusion is performed under the effect of general or regional anesthesia. Your surgeon will make 3-4 cm long cuts on the upper or inner surface of the foot, and will open the joints, remove the joint surface, reshape it and correct the deformity. The joints are then fixed and kept in place using screws, plates and staples. During the fusion, your surgeon may add bone grafts to fill the gaps between the joints, if necessary. This procedure stabilizes the joints, prevents movement and provides pain relief.
Postoperative Care for Foot Fusion
After the surgery, keep the operated foot elevated to decrease swelling. After the swelling has reduced, the foot will be put in a plaster cast from knee to toes for about 8 to 12 weeks until the bones have fused. You may have to use crutches for a few weeks. Your physical therapist will guide you to walk without putting pressure on the operated foot. Avoid driving and vigorous exercises for a few weeks after surgery. Follow-up X-ray images will be taken to check for bone fusion.
Risks and Complications of Foot Fusion
As with any procedure, midfoot tarsometatarsal joint fusion may involve certain risks and complications such as:
- Infection and swelling
- Non-union of bones
- Nerve injury
- Malpositioning of the fused bones
- Loosened pins and screws
- Rarely, deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism