Fusion & Reconstructions

What is an Ankle Fusion?

An ankle fusion is an effective surgical option for the treatment of painful end stage ankle arthritis.  This pain relieving procedure is performed by surgically joining the tibia (shin bone) and talus (ankle bone) with screws eliminating all motion in the joint.  This is a reliable operation that relieves pain and vastly improves a patient’s lifestyle and function.

Foot Pain
Foot Pain

What is the alternative to an Ankle Fusion?

Total ankle replacement is an alternative procedure that replaces the damaged ankle joint with an artificial implant and is used to treat the pain of ankle arthritis while still maintaining motion.

Whilst ankle replacement surgery is becoming more common, in certain situations such as significant deformity, neuropathy (absent sensation), large body mass, and younger patients ankle fusion may be preferred.

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What are the advantages to an Ankle Fusion?

The main advantage of an ankle fusion is that it is strong, reliable and it relieves the pain associated with ankle arthritis.  Ankle fusion has traditionally been the “gold standard” when it comes to the definitive treatment of ankle arthritis.  It can be used in many situations where a total ankle replacement is contra-indicated such as high body mass patients, severe deformity, neuropathy (absent sensation) and younger patients.

What are the disadvantages of an Ankle Fusion?

Ankle fusion’s main disadvantage is the loss of motion in the ankle joint that is required to relieve the pain.  This increases the stress on the adjacent joints in the foot and ankle and often results in the development of arthritis in these joints leading to further pain and stiffness in the foot and ankle over the long term.  Furthermore, if you have arthritis in both ankles, bilateral fusions are often disabling resulting in difficulty carrying out certain tasks, such as rising from a chair. 

Ankle Replacements

Do I qualify for an Ankle Fusion?

Dr. Chow will take a thorough history for which he needs to consider multiple factors to ensure that the appropriate operation is offered to you.  Factors for consideration are age, activity level, type of arthritis, degree of deformity, quality of adjacent skin and if arthritis is present in both ankles. 


A physical examination will be undertaken to evaluate the flexibility of the foot and ankle and isolate any other areas of pain and tenderness.


Weight bearing x-rays of the foot and ankle are reviewed for evidence of osteoarthritis and the bony alignment of the foot and ankle.  A CT scan and MRI may be required to further investigate the foot and ankle prior to surgery. 

There are clear indication and contraindications for ankle fusion surgery however often patients fall into a grey area for which the ideal operation is not clear.  Dr. Chow will take all factors into consideration and work with you to offer the most appropriate operation for your individual situation. 

Call us on 02 4721 4434 to make an appointment.

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