ankle joint motion

ankle scopeArthroscopy, or visualization of a joint through a scope, was first performed on the knee joint.  Through medical advances, many joints can now be inspected this way.  Ankle joint pathology is now commonly treated using a “scope.”  In the past, a large incision was made and the joint was opened and inspected.  This type of procedure carries a higher risk if infection and requires a longer post-operative course.  Using the scope, surgeons are able to still visualize the joint, but at a much lower risk to the patient.  The patient is also able to weight bear much sooner, or right away, depending on the treatments performed during the arthroscopy procedure.

Ankle arthroscopy allows the surgeon to inspect and evaluate articular cartilage and soft tissue pathology.  Articular cartilage is the specific type of cartilage that covers most joint surfaces.

Symptoms that may require ankle arthroscopy include:

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Stiffness
  • Popping or catching
  • Feeling that the ankle is weak, or unstable
  • Locking up of the joint


Some surgical procedures performed on the joint through the “scope” include:

intraop pic

  • Debridement of the joint (“cleaning up” arthritis)
  • Biopsy
  • Synovectomy (Often, the lining of the joint, or the synovium, becomes inflamed and can cause ankle pain)
  • Loose body removal (Chips of cartilage or bone in the joint, which can be very painful)
  • Drilling/Curettage of a cartilage defect (Osteochondral Defect, or OCD)

Arthroscopy isn’t for everyone, however.  Sometimes severe arthritis of the ankle or other pathology, like infection, will limit the use of the arthroscope.

If you are experiencing ankle pain, contact one of the Foot and Ankle Surgeons at Academy Foot & Ankle Specialists to see if an Ankle Arthroscopy might be needed to treat you ankle pain.

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