Key Points About Navigation Guided Total Ankle Replacement

  • When the tissues and bones in the ankle wear down, causing severe pain that is not relieved by conservative measures, you may need an ankle replacement.
  • Patients with painful arthritis in the ankle that has not been controlled with nonsurgical therapies may be candidates for a navigation guided ankle replacement.
  • During a navigation guided total ankle replacement, your surgeon will use computer program images to ensure the prosthetic ankle is the correct size and aligns correctly.
  • You will need to stay in the hospital a few days after surgery to recover. At home, you may need to use crutches to get around and do physical therapy exercises to strengthen the ankle and improve range of motion. 

Navigation-guided total ankle replacement surgery uses computer imaging to make scans inside the body. The images will help your orthopedic surgeon develop a surgical plan to make the surgery less complicated. The images will make sure the prosthetic ankle joint is the correct size and aligns appropriately.

The goal of navigation total ankle replacement surgery is to help you to walk and move your ankle without pain.

Candidates for Navigation Guided Total Ankle Replacement Surgery

If you have arthritis that is causing severe pain that can not be relieved with nonsurgical therapies such as steroid injections or physical therapy, you may be a candidate for an ankle replacement surgery. 

Arthritis breaks down the cartilage in your ankle, so it does not cushion the bone. When this occurs, it can be very painful to walk or move.

Risks Associated with a Navigation Guided Total Ankle Replacement Surgery

Generally, healthy people rarely experience complications from ankle replacement surgery.

When complications occur, they may include:

  • Infection.
  • Swelling and stiffness.
  • Bleeding in the wound.

Preparation for a Navigation Guided Total Ankle Replacement Surgery

In preparation for navigation guided total ankle replacement surgery, your doctor will outline what to expect before, during, and after surgery. Follow his or her guidelines to ensure you have a successful outcome. 

Instructions before surgery include:

  • Prepare to stay in the hospital for a few days after surgery.
  • Plan to have a ride home from the hospital.
  • Arrange your home to be able to move around with crutches or braces. Consider hiring a caregiver to help you with basic needs for a week or so.
  • Inform your doctor of all medications, including herbal medicines you are taking.
  • Stop taking medications such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications at the designated time.
  • Stop smoking and limit alcohol consumption.

What to Expect During Navigation Guided Total Ankle Replacement Surgery

Navigation Guided Total Ankle Replacement surgery is performed under general anesthesia.

Before surgery, your orthopedic surgeon will take a scan of your ankle to create a computer image of your ankle and develop a surgery plan. The computer program will create a customized guide for the new prosthetic ankle.

During surgery, your doctor will make an incision above the ankle to reach the ankle bone. Your surgeon will use navigation guides to determine where to cut your bones. Once he or she has found the correct place, they will put the artificial ankle in place using screws and other hardware.

Duration of Navigation Guided Total Ankle Replacement Surgery Recovery

You will need to stay in the hospital for a few days after surgery for monitoring. 

To ensure proper recovery, follow your doctor's recovery instructions carefully. Instructions may include:

  • Elevate your ankle for three weeks after surgery to reduce pain and swelling.
  • Avoid putting weight on your ankle for six weeks.
  • Wear crutches or use a walker when instructed.

Do your physical therapy exercises to strengthen your muscles and regain your ankle range of motion.