Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Ankle FAQ

Question:

Six months ago, I had a special locking nail put in my ankle to fuse it. Everything has healed fine. There's no pain, and I only walk with a small limp (compared to before the operation). My question is: after the surgery, I moved to a different state. Do I need to have someone here keep an eye on this thing?

Answer:

It's always a good idea to complete all follow-up care after any type of surgery. This is especially true when there is hardware left in the body. If you can't travel back to see the surgeon who performed the operation, then make an appointment with someone in your area instead.

Call your former surgeon and make arrangements for copies of your medical records to be sent to the new surgeon. X-rays are usually taken to confirm the results of the fusion. It's important to know the status of your joints. Sometimes patients have a nonunion but remain free of symptoms for a while.

It is standard in some operations to leave the hardware in permanently. But in an operation of this type, some of the screws are removed after three to four months. This helps reduce irritation of the bone and soft tissues around the tip of the nail. Removing hardware can also decrease the risk of stress-related problems.

You may want to ask your former surgeon if he or she was planning any further surgery to remove some or all of the hardware. This might help you put together a list of questions for the surgeon who will follow-up your care in your current location. Ronald Boer, MRCSEd, et al. Tibiotalocalcaneal Arthrodesis Using a Reamed Retrograde Locking Nail. In Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research. October 2007. No. 463. Pp. 151-156.

*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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