When there are issues with the ankle joint, ankle arthroscopy is often recommended. This procedure is performed with a fiber-optic camera that magnifies and transmits images. An ankle arthroscopy is a minimally-invasive surgical procedure whereby small incisions are made in the joint to evaluate and treat problems occurring in the ankle joint.

Who Needs It

Ankle arthroscopy is performed for two main reasons:

1) for a surgical evaluation of the ankle.

2) for the treatment of a variety of ankle conditions.

Anyone who is experiencing issues with their ankle joint may be a candidate for the arthroscopy procedure. It is also often carried out when the Pensacola orthopedic specialist believes that you have a condition of the ankle or ankle joint, and he needs to determine the extent of your injury. You may need to have an ankle arthroscopy if you have any of the following conditions:

  • Ankle arthritis. The ankle arthroscopy helps the surgeon provide you with an ankle fusion to help with your arthritis.
  • Ankle fracture. If you have a fracture of the ankle, this procedure allows for maximum fracture repair of the cartilage.
  • Anterior ankle impingement. This is known as athlete’s ankle and causes the ankle joint to be inflamed. The procedure helps to remove inflamed tissues and bone spurs to improve your range of motion and reduce discomfort.
  • Ankle instability. Arthroscopic procedures can help with ligaments that are stretched too far.
  • Loose bodies. If you have scar tissue, cartilage, or bone that are floating around the joint, it can cause a lot of pain and clicking when moving the ankle. The procedure helps to remove the loose bodies.
  • Other ankle issues. There are some instances where the orthopedic surgeon isn’t entirely sure what is wrong with your joint. For other problems, this procedure is performed to diagnose the issue.

How Does It Work

When you are scheduled for an ankle arthroscopy, it is considered a minimally-invasive, outpatient procedure. You will first receive anesthesia, then the surgeon will apply a tourniquet to your leg. The leg is cleaned and the ankle joint is stretched in order to see it a little better during the procedure.

The orthopedic surgeon will make multiple incisions, usually at least two, near the ankle. This is where the instruments are camera are inserted in order to have a better look at the ankle joint and diagnose the problem. There is fluid that goes through the joint, which helps them see what the joint looks like on a screen connected to the camera. You will then have sutures over the incisions and a bandage.


As with all procedures, the ankle arthroscopy might cause some discomfort and swelling near the incision site. Follow your Pensacola orthopedic's surgeon’s instructions for post-care, including taking pain relievers or antibiotics to avoid infection, icing the area to reduce inflammation, or keeping it elevated for a certain period of time. You might also be instructed to avoid putting a lot of weight on that leg, depending on the condition they found when performing the procedure. A physical therapy regimen might be recommended in some cases.

The amount of activity you can have after the procedure depends largely on what condition you have and what your employment is. If you have a job where you sit down the majority of the time, you might be able to return within a couple days. Otherwise, you may need to take more time off work, which typically is one to two weeks. Most patients can return to sports within six weeks.