The aim is to fix the ankle bones in the correct place while your fracture heals. If the fracture is displaced, we aim to re-align the bones to make the joint as normal as possible. We will then hold the bones in position with plates and screws while your fracture heals.
If a displaced fracture is in a joint, it can make the joint surfaces very rough and lead to arthritis. Reconstructing the ankle reduces the risk of arthritis developing to a minimum.
Are there any alternatives?
The decision to treat a fractured ankle with surgery depends on the type of fracture. Not every fractured ankle needs to be operated on. Some can be re-aligned by pushing and pulling (manipulation) and then held in position with a plaster only.
In some cases it is better to fix the fracture with plates and screws, if treatment with a cast only is not the best option.
What if you do nothing?
If the bones are out of place, and you do not have an operation you may develop arthritis in the ankle within a year or two.
Who should have it done?
If your ankle is broken and you are fit enough to undergo surgery, you ought to have the fracture fixed.
Who should not have it done?
If you suffer major medical problems, these should be sorted out before you have the operation. These problems include irregular heart rhythms and breathing problems.
If your leg is very swollen, you should wait for the swelling to go down before having your operation. This may take as long as six days.
Author: Mr Boyd Goldie MBBS FRCS BSC DHMSA. Consultant in orthopaedics & trauma.
© Dumas Ltd 2006