Ankle Ligament Repair

What is an Ankle Sprain?

A sprain is the stretching or tearing of ligaments, which connect adjacent bones and provide stability to a joint. An ankle sprain is a common injury that occurs when you suddenly fall or twist the ankle joint or when you land your foot in an awkward position after a jump. Most commonly it occurs when you participate in sports or when you jump or run on a surface that is irregular.

What are the Indications for Ankle Ligament Repair?

Surgery is recommended in patients with a high degree of ankle instability and in those who have failed to respond to non-surgical treatments.

Ankle Ligament Repair Procedure

Anatomic repair is preferred in most cases of ankle instability.It involves reconstruction of the stretched or torn ligaments. The surgery is performed under epidural anesthesia. Your surgeon makes an incision on the ankle to expose the damaged joint and ligaments. The joint capsule and ligaments are examined, and the edges of the torn ligament are shortened and repaired with sutures. The ends may be overlapped and then sutured to strengthen the ligament. Your surgeon then covers the repaired ligament with the extensor retinaculum, a dense band of connective tissue, to reinforce the ligament further. Range of motion is evaluated; the incision is closed, and a sterile bandage is applied.

What is the Postoperative Care for Ankle Ligament Repair?

After surgery, your foot will be immobilized with a cast or splint. You will be provided crutches to avoid bearing weight on the operated ankle. Your doctor will remove the splint and provide a removable boot to be worn for 2 to 4 weeks. Physical therapy will be initiated to strengthen your joint and improve range of motion. Complete recovery may take 10 to 12 weeks.

What are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Ankle Ligament Repair?

The advantages of the ankle ligament repair include:

  • Simple surgical procedure that makes use of your own anatomy to repair the damage
  • Preserves complete joint mobility
  • Rapid recovery
  • Smaller incision
  • Fewer complications

The disadvantage includes:

  • Loosening of the ligaments, requiring additional repairs

What are the Risks and Complications of Ankle Ligament Repair?

As with all surgical procedures, ankle instability surgery may be associated with certain complications including:

  • Injury to the superficial nerves
  • Chronic pain
  • Stiffness
  • Need for second surgery (rare)