MedStar Orthopaedic Institute is home to a team of doctors who specialize in surgical treatments, such as foot and ankle fusion surgery. Our experienced orthopedic surgeons offer you the comprehensive care you need for an effective procedure and a successful recovery. Our experts are fellowship-trained in foot and ankle surgery and specialize exclusively in caring for lower extremity conditions.
What is foot and ankle fusion?
During this surgical procedure, the bones are fused or connected with screws, prohibiting motion in the foot or ankle and creating a permanent joining of the bones. It is used to treat a wide range of foot and ankle conditions that cause chronic pain in the foot and ankle joint.
Why is fusion surgery performed?
Fusion is one treatment option to relieve pain in patients who have a worn out joint due to arthritis or a traumatic injury. It is also a treatment option for people with a severe deformity such as flat feet, high-arched foot, or a club foot in which the ankle joint is also deformed, unstable, or damaged.
What does foot and ankle fusion involve?
Fusion surgery is performed under general anesthesia. An incision is made and the damaged cartilage is removed from the joint so that the surface of your bones is level. Your bones are then positioned for the fusion. Screws will be placed to allow the bones to heal together in proper alignment. A tibial bone graft may be taken from your knee area to be used in conjunction with the screws.
The following types of surgical techniques may be used at MedStar Orthopaedic Institute:
- Calcaneocuboid fusion – The hindfoot consists of four bones and three joints. The talus, calcaneus, cuboid, and navicular bones are separated by cartilage and create the talocalcaneal, talonavicular, and calcaneocuboid joints. A calcaneocuboid fusion fuses together the calcaneus and cuboid bones of the hindfoot.
- Midfoot fusion – The midfoot consists of the navicular, cuboid, and three cuneiforms. A midfoot fusion fuses the bones of the midfoot that are causing your pain and disability.
- Subtalar fusion – The hindfoot consists of four bones and three joints. The talus, calcaneus, cuboid, and navicular bones are separated by cartilage and create the talocalcaneal, talonavicular, and calcaneocuboid joints. A subtalar fusion fuses together the subtalar joint.
- Talonavicular fusion – The midfoot consists of the navicular, cuboid, and three cuneiforms. A talonavicular fusion fuses the talus and the navicular bones.
- Triple arthrodesis – The hindfoot consists of four bones and three joints. The talus, calcaneus, cuboid, and navicular bones are separated by cartilage and create the talocalcaneal, talonavicular, and calcaneocuboid joints. A triple arthrodesis fuses together the three joints of the hindfoot.
What does recovery involve?
Surgery may be done as an outpatient procedure or in some cases may involve a one night stay in the hospital. Following surgery, you will need to keep your foot elevated to help reduce the swelling. Once the swelling goes down and the incisions are healing, your doctor may put on a cast or a removable boot. You will need to wear the cast until the foot or ankle has fused, which usually takes six weeks to three months. For the first six weeks, you should not put any weight on your foot as it may disturb the healing joint.
A few weeks following surgery, your doctor will take X-rays to monitor the healing of your fused joint. When the X-rays show that the joint is fused enough to bear weight, the cast or boot will be removed and you will be given a brace to wear that will support you as you begin walking with weight on your foot again. The brace is usually worn for about a month.
What are the benefits?
Our goal is for you to experience the following benefits after having foot and ankle fusion surgery:
- Arthritis pain relief
- Improved ability to bear weight on the affected foot and ankle
- Ability to return to normal activities without pain
If you believe you may need foot and ankle fusion surgery, call 202-295-0511 to schedule a consultation with one of our orthopedic specialists at MedStar Orthopaedic Institute.