Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Ankle FAQ


What can you tell me about the downside of ankle arthroscopy? I'm scheduled to have this operation in two weeks.


Arthroscopy is a surgical techniques used to diagnose and treat joint problems. It can be used on any of the larger joints such as the shoulder, hip, knee, or ankle. A very small incision is made in the skin to allow the scope to be inserted into the joint.

Anytime surgery is done, there are risks. The patient is usually anesthetized so there are potential side effects from the anesthesia. Anytime an incision is made (no matter how small), there is a risk of skin or wound infection.

The surgeon can injure blood vessels or nerves with the scope. Likewise, tendons, ligaments, and even bone can be subject to damage by the needle-shaped instrument.

For the most part ankle arthroscopy is safe and problem-free. Studies report a range of complications from seven to 17 per cent. Overall, a 10 per cent rate is probably most representative. Neurologic problems are the most common. Some are only temporary but others cause permanent damage.

Researchers are striving to find safer and better ways to do arthroscopy on all the joints. Studies are underway to reduce the risk of problems, especially with ankle arthroscopy. Jae Ang Sim, MD, et al. New Posteromedial Portal for Ankle Arthroscopy. In The Journal of Arthroscopic and Related Surgery. July 2006. Vol. 22. No. 7. Pp. 799.e1-799.e2.

*Disclaimer:* The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.
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