Ankle arthroscopy

What is an arthroscopy of the ankle?

An arthroscopy is the technical term for keyhole surgery. The operation allows the surgeon to see inside your ankle through a small cut using a camera. This method is less intrusive and allows the surgeon to diagnose problems such as ligament damage, joint damage and arthritis.

What are the main benefits of surgery?

Surgery confirms exactly what the problem is and usually, the surgeon is able to treat the problem at the same time.

Do I need surgery?

An MRI scan can be used to diagnose problems within the ankle. In most cases, you would usually need an arthroscopy to treat the problem.

What does the operation involve?

Various anaesthetic techniques are available. The procedure usually takes no more than forty-five minutes. The surgeon is able to extract any loose fragments and material from the surface of the joints. This is aided by the camera that is inserted through small cuts around the ankle (see diagram).

Reconstructive surgery may be needed if your ankle ligaments are torn.

What complications can happen?

General complications

  • Pain
  • Bleeding
  • Infection of the surgical site (wound)
  • Scarring
  • Blood clots
  • Difficulty passing urine

Specific complications

  • Infection within the ankle joint
  • Nerve damage around the ankle
  • Swelling and tightness of the calf muscle (compartment syndrome)
  • Stiffness, pain and loss of use of the ankle (complex regional pain syndrome)

How long will recovery take?

Often you will be discharged on the same day as the surgery. It is likely that the ankle will be slightly swollen for a couple of weeks. Walking may well be uncomfortable. Frequent, gentle exercise will help with your recovery. Seek advice from your doctor or the relevant healthcare professional as to what exercises best suit you. The majority of patients recover quickly and can soon return to normal everyday activities.


An arthroscopy is the medical term for keyhole surgery. The surgeon is able to diagnose and treat common ankle related complaints, without the need for a large incision to skin. This reduces the amount of pain and discomfort you feel, enabling a faster recovery.

Acknowledgements: EIDO Healthcare Limited​

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