Total Ankle Replacement Versus Fusion

Ankle joint arthritis can be just as debilitating or more than hip, back, or knee joint arthritis. Ankle arthritis often occurs in people that have had a prior history of traumatic injuries to the ankle, such as ankle fractures or sprains. When a person has debilitating ankle joint arthritis total ankle replacements and ankle fusions are often the treatment of choice when conservative methods have failed. There are many factors that physicians utilize when determining which treatment option is the most appropriate.

Surgical options are only sought once the arthritis begins interfering with daily activities, and pain cannot be controlled with conservative methods. Total ankle replacements can help relieve pain while maintaining motion in the joint. Fusions on the other hand work by eliminating motion entirely, thus eliminating pain. When initially looking at these two options, the total ankle replacement may seem like a no brainer, but as with any surgical procedure there are some cons. Total ankle replacements often fail within 10-20 years depending on the activity level of the patient, and the type of replacement apparatus used. Most people should expect a revision surgery down the road so a replacement may not be ideal for those that want to avoid future surgeries. If the fibula, which is the bone on the outside part of the leg, is not left intact then future revisions may be more complicated. Fusions are also known as an ankle arthrodesis, and are considered to be the “gold standard” as far as surgical treatment. Fusions are often done in younger patients because younger patients are often too active for total ankle replacements to be successful. As newer generation ankle replacements become available the eligibility for total ankle replacements may begin including more people. The average age for total ankle replacement procedures is around 60 years old, and is similar to the average age for other joint replacement surgeries.

Regardless of the location, arthritis is a leading cause for disability, and is an important condition to treat. There are many options available, and the best option varies depending on individual factors. Speak to your Podiatrist if you suffer from painful ankle arthritis, and would like to see what options are best for you.

Please visit for more information or call 614-885-3338 (FEET) to schedule an appointment with a podiatrist in Columbus, Ohio. Columbus Podiatry & Surgery is located on the North side of Columbus, Ohio near Worthington.

Columbus Podiatry & Surgery in Gahanna, near Easton. Please call 614-476-3338 (FEET) for an appointment with a podiatrist in Gahanna, OH today.

By Dr. Animesh (Andy) Bhatia