Child Orthopedics

Frequently Asked Questions

Years ago our nine-year old daughter had an ankle fusion because of a foot and ankle deformity. Are they still using this operation?

Correction of deformity was the most likely use for ankle fusion or ankle arthrodesis in years past. The operation has been improved over the years. Its uses have expanded to include post-traumatic arthritis. Patients with other conditions causing pain and instability are also potential candidates for this operation.

Surgeons have better ways to position the fused ankle for optimum fusion and function. Besides bone graft, screws are also used to hold the ankle in place. Most patients report good results with the operation as it is done today.

Muscle atrophy of the calf is common after ankle arthrodesis. The major problem that occurs is degeneration in the other joints of the ankle and foot. Studies show that motion at the hip and foot is decreased after ankle fusion. Motion at the pelvis and knee don't seem to change.

There may be some long-term results of these effects. More study is needed to see just what happens and to find ways to prevent future problems.

Rhys Thomas, FRCS (ORTH), et al. Gait Analysis and Functional Outcomes Following Ankle Arthrodesis for Isolated Ankle Arthritis. In The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery. March 2006. Vol. 88-A. No. 3. Pp. 526-535.

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