Ankle Fusion Surgery in South Korea

Ankle fusion is an umbrella term for many techniques – but with a common intention. It seeks to take the different ankle bones and fuse them into one bone. It is a preferred procedure for those suffering from chronic arthritis. Cases like osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis need ankle fusion as the last resort if the pain and inflammation hinder regular activities.

Ankle fusion surgery is also known as ankle arthrodesis. From its first documented usage in the medical world in 1879, the surgical procedure has helped many patients to alleviate the pain around the ankle area and lead a normal life. For almost 100 years there was little literature available on the surgery. But from 1990 onwards, there have been many well-documented cases around ankle arthrodesis. Through this, we come to know that between 1990 and 2006, the rate of foot and ankle arthrodesis increased by 146%.

Ankle fusion surgery in South Korea

Economic development and universal health coverage have led to a massive acceleration in healthcare outcomes in South Korea. It is increasingly emerging as a destination of choice for complicated surgical procedures like ankle fusion. The growth of speciality hospital like orthopaedic hospitals provides much better chances of successful treatment for ankle arthritis patients.

Both minimally invasive and surgical procedures are carried out by well qualified and experienced experts. The orthopaedic surgeons have a very focused speciality. In the key orthopaedic medical centres, these surgeons perform almost 500 surgeries every year on the same types of joints, bones or muscles.  This improves their efficacy manifold and makes the South Korean ortho specialists the preferred expert to treat cases of extreme ankle arthritis necessitating ankle arthrodesis.

You can rely on their innovative skills, use of advanced healthcare technology, and clear diagnosis to trust South Korea as a medical tourism destination of choice for ankle fusion surgery at low costs.

Cost comparison

In the US it costs on average $14600 to $40000 for ankle fusion procedures in Boston. But in South Korea, you get the same eagle eye precision and experienced surgical skills for far less. The favourable currency rate to South Korean Won to works in favour of patients flying in from countries like the US, UK, and Europe, and South Africa.

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About the Ankle Fusion Surgery

What is Ankle Fusion Surgery

Ankle fusion operation, also known as ankle arthrodesis, is a surgical procedure conducted to close the joint space by joining the bones that make up the ankle joint.

Your ankle joint is an articulation of three bones. These three bones are known as the tibia, fibula, and the talus. During ankle fusion operation, the cartilage covering the bony surface of the ankle joint is scraped off. The diseased part of the bones is also trimmed.

Next, the newly exposed bony surface of the tibia and the talus are placed in close contact. Additionally, they are compressed using screws. New bone formation takes place in and around the joint resulting infusion of the bones into a single bone.

Candidates for Ankle Fusion Surgery

Ankle fusion operation is recommended for patients experiencing unbearable pain during the ankle movement. The pain may result because of the following reasons:

  • Joint wear and tear
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Post-traumatic arthritis
  • Infection in or around the joint
  • Neuromuscular disease
  • Failure of previous non-surgical treatment

Not all patients with the aforementioned conditions are always suitable for ankle fusion. Patients with the following characteristics are not suggested to undergo this surgery:

  • Insufficient quantity and quality of bone
  • Severe deformity in the leg
  • Vascular diseases that prevent proper healing

How is Ankle Fusion Surgery performed?

During the surgery, you are given either local anaesthesia or sedation to numb the entire ankle area. The doctor makes a small cut on the lateral side of the ankle through the skin so that the joint can be seen clearly. If more visibility is needed, the doctor makes an extra cut in the front of the ankle.

The doctor then uses a saw to remove the articular cartilage on the surface of the joint bones. The diseased bone is removed, exposing the healthy part of the bone. The healthy bone surfaces are compressed using large screws. The bones join naturally through deposition of bone material as is the case with natural fracture healing.

Sometimes, a doctor may place an artificial bone graft or a bone grafted from your fibula to ensure fast healing of the bony surfaces. Before placing the screws, the doctor carefully positions the ankle to ensure maximum movement possible. The ankle is placed at 90 degrees to the lower leg and the heel is slightly outwards. Then the skin is brought back in place and sutured together.

Recovery from Ankle Fusion Surgery

Ankle fusion recovery time depends on how seriously you take the following precautions after the surgery:

  • You need to keep the leg raised and give yourself cold compression to avoid swelling.
  • You may sometimes feel tingling sensation early in the morning once you put your leg down. This is because sudden rush of blood towards the ankle when you change the position from an elevated position.
  • You should take pain medicines as directed by your doctor.
  • You should come back to the hospital 10 to 15 days after the surgery to get the stitches removed.
  • You will have to carry the splint for 6 to 12 weeks.
  • Your doctor will put you on a no-weight bearing program for 6 to 12 weeks. This period can be extended if your doctor finds that healing is not fair enough.
  • You will be advised to go ahead with gentle physiotherapy after removal of splints to prevent stiffness in joints.

Alternate treatment options:

Arthroscopic ankle fusion surgery: This procedure is similar to the open ankle fusion surgery. However, the incision is very small and the entire procedure is carried out by inserting an instrument that has a camera attached to one end. It helps the doctor clearly view the interior cartilage and bones. Faster recovery and healing are the two advantages of this approach.

Ankle joint replacement: During this procedure, the entire ankle joint is replaced. The advantage of this technique over ankle fusion is that it retains complete movement of the ankle.

Ankle Fusion Recovery Time

  • The minimum time that it takes to recover from fusion recovery is between 12 to 15 weeks.
  • During the first 6 to 8 weeks, you are not supposed to put any weight on the ankle. If you do anything like that, it may disturb the natural healing of the joint.
  • During 8 to 10 weeks of a recovery period, your doctor will advise you to get an X-ray done. If the healing is good, you will be allowed to conduct the light physical activity with the help of cast boots.
  • During 10 to 12 weeks, you can increase the physical activity, but you will be asked to take help of supportive ankle devices.

Patient Stories

Frequently Asked Questions

Why should you opt for Ankle Fusion Surgery in South Korea

South Korea’s state of the art facilities and medical excellence ensures that it remains a favourite for patients coming in from Western countries. Its Ministry of Health and Welfare ensures that the entire process – from pre-surgery consultation to post-operative follow-ups are done in a hassle-free manner for foreign nationals

What is the cost of Ankle Fusion Surgery in South Korea

The entire cost of flight, transfers, accommodation, food, hospital stay, surgery costs, and medical costs is far less than the US costs. In the US the average costs for the procedure alone come to $19184. In South Korea, the same procedure can be done at a fraction of the cost, without compromising on the quality of healthcare or facilities.

Which are the top Orthopedic Surgeons in South Korea for Ankle Fusion Surgery

Professor Myung Chul Lee from Seoul National University Hospital specializes in new age technology in orthopaedics. Doctor Kook Hee Kyun from Sarang Hospital too is a renowned name in orthopaedics.

Which are the top hospitals and clinics in South Korea for Ankle Fusion Surgeries

Yonsei University Health Systems (YUHS) + Gangnam Severance Hospital has a reputation since its inception in 1885. It specializes in orthopaedics, along with several other departments. The 2715-bed ASAN Medical Center in Seoul to has a team that specializes in foot and ankle surgeries.

Is Ankle Fusion Surgery's success rate in South Korea high?

The presence of highly qualified physicians and surgeons in South Korea means that the level of healthcare delivered to patients matches international standards. Their intense focus on advanced orthopaedics makes them the top most professionals in the field of foot and ankle surgeries. With it, their success rate in South Korea remains high and is well above the worldwide average.

What is the health care infrastructure of South Korea / Why should opt for South Korea as a destination for your medical treatment?
South Korea is recognized for its strict rules and regulations which have kept the country in strict discipline. As an upside, the country has well-maintained regulations for every process and impressive medical healthcare facilities which have garnered thousands of visitors from across the world. The reason for opting for hospitals in South Korea is the astounding treatment options available at a very cost-effective price range, which is undoubtedly more affordable than most of the developed countries across the world. Besides the well-planned infrastructure, the treatment in South Korea and the alternatives offered are tempting enough. Apart from that, the country also flaunts high success rates and has thus been able to cure some of the most complex diseases in the world.
What are the conditions of the hospitals in South Korea? Are they JCI certified? What is the quality of the support staff in the hospitals?
The Joint Commission International (JCI) is a global leader in health care accreditation. JCI accreditation is considered a gold standard in worldwide health care. It provides the most skilled and experienced healthcare professionals in the medical industry, as evaluators of the rigorous international standards in healthcare quality and patient safety. YUHS Severance Hospital + Gangnam Severance Hospital is a JCI certified hospital in South Korea.
Are the doctors/surgeons in South Korea of the best quality?
The doctors and surgeons providing treatments in South Korea are globally recognized for their service in the medical field. Furnished with degrees from reputed universities and decades of training and experience, the doctors have earned high success rates throughout their professional careers. The doctors have to undergo rigorous training to keep up with the strict protocol and measures of hospitals in South Korea. Hence, quality is maintained.
What is the process for obtaining a medical visa in South Korea?
The Korean embassy follows a strict protocol for obtaining a visa for traveling to the country. The necessary documents (photocopies and original) have been listed on their official website and should be strictly adhered to. The candidate also has to produce necessary papers stating the medical cause and referral certificate signed by the registered medical practitioner. Although these need to be taken care of by the candidate, the rest of the procedures and further visa assistance is managed by the sponsors in most cases. A Medical Dependent Visa is granted to those who are accompanying a patient traveling to Sount Korea for medical treatment on a Medical Visa. This visa can be given to a close relative/family member or a friend of the patient. Please note that relevant letters/documents explaining details of the treatment, signed and stamped by the concerned hospitals/doctors, a declaration from the patient or an immediate family member is also required confirming the escort travel along with the patient.
What support services does MediGence provide in South Korea?
MediGence enables you to plan and manage your medical decisions better. These are some of our services offered:
  • Expert Opinion
    We help you seek an Expert Opinion on your diagnosis and treatment from an experienced team of doctors at MediGence and specialists from a reputable hospital.
  • Hospital Recommendation
    We recommend a hospital or a healthcare institution that is best suited for you, based on your ailment and its criticality.
  • 360-degree Hospital Review
    We give you a transparent and holistic view of the hospital and its infrastructure, accreditation, facilities, and expertise to give you confidence.
  • Doctor Validation and Communication
    We share a comprehensive profile of the treating doctor and also arrange a call to clear queries regarding treatment if needed.
  • Options to Choose From
    Based on your choice of destination and other preferences, we provide you multiple options with respect to hospitals and doctors to choose from.
  • 24X7 Patient Care Support
    A dedicated patient case manager stays in constant touch with you to help you at every step of the decision-making process and resolve queries that you may have.
  • Transparent Treatment Cost and Other Expenses
    We give a clear and accurate indication of the total cost of treatment including treatment, stay, meals, and other expenses.
  • Visa Assistance
    We provide and help prepare documentation for visa approval and coordinate with the embassy to expedite the visa process.
  • Accommodation Arrangements
    We propose to you a choice of accommodation based on your preference such as long stay, short stay, or luxury properties.
Which are the best cities in South Korea for medical treatment?
Treatment in South Korea is affordable. Seoul is the capital of South Korea and one of the main cities for healthcare. Seoul and Daegu have some of the best hospitals in South Korea. Busan, Incheon, and Ulsan also have developing healthcare facilities.

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