Ankle Fracture Fixation

What is ankle fracture surgery?

An ankle fracture surgery, also known as open reduction with internal fixation, is a type of surgical technique used to stabilize a fractured bone in the ankle in order to promote healing. The ankle is made up of three bones, the tibia, fibula, and talus. The protrusions in these bones include the medial malleolus, the posterior malleolus, and the lateral malleolus. The ankle is also made up of two joints, the ankle joint and syndesmosis joint. Injuries can damage a patient’s talus, lower fibula, and lower tibia, and they may sustain a fracture in more than one bone or in more than one place in the bone. This can move the bones out of alignment, requiring the need for surgery using an ankle fracture fixation technique. An ankle fracture fixation will require an open reduction, which is when the ankle bones are repositioned during surgery. An internal fixation, a method of connecting the bones with nails, wires, plates, rods, and screws, is then used to stabilize the ankle and prevent the affected bones from healing abnormally.

What occurs during ankle fracture surgery?

After the type of fracture has been diagnosed with x-rays, MRIs, or CT scan, it may be determined that surgical fixation of the ankle is required. Ankle fracture fixation techniques are used during an open reduction procedure where an incision is made and metal pins, plates, screws, or rods are applied to the affected bones to hold them together in the correct positioning. Appropriate alignment is confirmed using x-rays during the surgery. Once the surgery is complete, the incision is then closed with either staples or stitches. A bandage will also be applied, and the ankle may be put in a cast or splint for several weeks. Patients may be able to return home the day of surgery. The ankle will need to be elevated and immobilized for a certain period of time post-surgery. The doctor may also prescribe pain or blood-thinner medications. Stitches or staples will be removed at follow up appointments and imaging tests will be ordered to determine if the bones are healing properly. Physical therapy may also be required after the procedure in order for the patient to regain strength and mobility.

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