Advances in the design of ankle implants
are making the procedure an increasingly viable option for many patients, according to a review article in the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.
Lead author Dr Andrea Cracchiolo, director of the Adult Foot and Ankle section at the University of California, Los Angeles Medical Centre, notes that ankle implants have gone through a number of evolutionary phases and improvements are still being made.
She pointed out that the first ankle implants had all failed, but modern versions do not need to use bone cement and are therefore more effective.
"The surfaces are such that the bone will grow into the joint much like in total hip replacement," she explained.
However, Dr Cracchiolo revealed that ankle replacement surgery is not an option for all patients and said that individuals should seek a thorough assessment to see whether or not they are suitable.
The expert explained: "Some patients have such deformity of the ankle or have an ankle that is so unstable that total ankle replacement is not indicated."
She added that, in the future, the goal is to develop ankle implants "that are comparable to hips and knees in terms of quality and longevity".
Patients may be suitable for a total knee replacement if they have a destroyed ankle, have advanced arthritis of the ankle, or if their joint interferes with their daily activities and is painful.