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Ankle Arthroscopy

Ankle arthroscopy is keyhole surgery used to treat a variety of ankle problems. It is commonly used to treat and assess problems such as:

  • Ankle bony ‘spurs’ (osteophytes).
  • Loose bodies (chips of bone or cartilage).
  • Arthritis.
  • Cartilage or bone damage (osteochondral lesions).
  • Scarring / ligament damage.
  • ‘Impingement’ (anterior –front, or posterior-back of ankle).
  • Small fractures.
  • Used in combination with ligament repair/reconstruction surgery.

The surgery is performed as day case surgery. A general anaesthetic will usually be given  and local anaesthetic is placed  into the incisions to numb some of the pain following surgery.

Two or three ‘keyholes’ are made for small telescopes and instruments to see into the joint and ‘clean up’ or treat lesions.

The surgery usually takes between 45 minutes to one hour.

After surgery you will go home a few hours later once you have recovered. (You will need someone else to pick you up from hospital).


Crutches are required for the first few days until it is comfortable to walk on your foot unaided.

Generally, ‘Full weight bearing’ as much as is comfortable is allowed – Occasionally you may be instructed by your surgeon to be ‘Non weight bearing’ (this is sometimes required following a ‘microfracture’ procedure).

Please REST and ELEVATE your foot strictly for the first 36-48 hours and then keep it mostly rested and elevated for the first week. Icing for 20 minutes twice or three times daily for the first 3-5 days can help with swelling and pain.

The outer soft bandage can be removed 48 hours after surgery and then an elastic ‘tubigrip’ applied to help control swelling. The stick-on plastic dressings should be left on until your review – if these fall off please replace with a bandaid. A small amount of bleeding on the dressings is normal.

The foot and ankle should be moved up and down and in circles to prevent stiffening and blood clots.

Physiotherapy may be started after 10 days if required. Stationary bike exercise can start 5-7 days post-op.

No driving right foot for 1 week or until walking comfortably with no crutches.

Time off work

Desk work

4-7 days

Light duties

1-2 weeks

Standing / heavy work

3-5 weeks


6-12 weeks

Full recovery

3-4 months


The risks of arthroscopic ankle surgery are rare but include: Anaesthetic complications, Infection, Nerve damage, Blood clots (DVT) and Stiffness.

These notes have been prepared by orthopaedic surgeons at OrthoSport Victoria. They are general overviews and information aimed for use by their specific patients and reflects their views, opinions and recommendations. This does not constitute medical advice. The contents are provided for information and education purposes only and not for the purpose of rendering medical advice. Please seek the advice of your specific surgeon or other health care provider with any questions regarding medical conditions and treatment.