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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

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Before the Treatment

Before the treatment, you should:

  • Talk to your doctor and seek answers to your questions before saying yes to the surgery.
  • Undergo physical examination to check whether your body is in a position to tolerate a surgery and assess the chances of contracting an infection.
  • Avoid eating solid foods at least 12 to 15 hours before the surgery.

How it is 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.


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.

Cost Comparison

Cost of Ankle Fusion in India

Ankle fusion surgery cost in India is much less than other countries, even the ones that are highly popular for medical tourist. It is estimated that the cost of ankle fusion in India is just two-thirds the cost of the same surgery in the Western countries.

The total ankle fusion cost in India depends on several factors. For example, it depends on the package that you select for your treatment. Some packages include arrangements for accommodation and local travel, while others include just the treatment cost and the cost of medications.

Some of the other factors that dictate the overall cost of ankle fusion in India include the following:

  • The fees of the ankle replacement surgeons
  • Rate of recovery
  • Cost of medicines and other consumables
  • Type of hospital room opted
  • Rehabilitation cost
  • Additional hospital charges

Treatment cost in India: 4200
Treatment cost in Turkey: 8000
Treatment cost in United Arab Emirates: n/a
Treatment cost in Spain: 22000
Treatment cost in Thailand: n/a
Treatment cost in Israel: 20000
Treatment cost in Singapore: 9300
Treatment cost in Saudi Arabia: 4000
Treatment cost in South Africa: 4000
Treatment cost in Tunisia: 3900
Treatment cost in Greece: 7000
Treatment cost in Czechia: 6200
Treatment cost in Hungary: 5000
Treatment cost in Lebanon: n/a
Treatment cost in Lithuania: 5000
Treatment cost in Poland: n/a
Treatment cost in Switzerland: n/a
Treatment cost in United Kingdom: 7500
Treatment cost in Malaysia: n/a
Treatment cost in Morocco: n/a
Treatment cost in South Korea: 12000

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Q. Can I do all things on my own after ankle fusion surgery?

 A. Yes, you can do activities such as walking, jogging, jumping, and dancing. Only the joint rotation movements are restricted.

Q. Is it compulsory to get the screws removed?

A. Not necessary. You should get it removed if it is touching the skin or it is infected or painful.

Q. Will my height reduce after ankle fusion surgery?

A. Maybe, but the chances are rare. Even if it does reduce, the difference will not be noticeable enough.

Q. Will there be pain after ankle fusion surgery?

A. You are most likely to experience some pain. Your doctor will take care of it as long as you stay at the hospital. Once you are ready to go home, you will be given medications to manage pain.

Q. What diet should I take?

A. You are free to eat anything. Eat healthy and a balanced meal and drink milk every day so that the joint heals fast.

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Ankle Fusion Surgery