Total ankle arthroplasty (TAA), also known as total ankle replacement, is a surgical procedure that is used to treat ankle arthritis. The procedure replaces the damaged arthritic ankle cartilage with an artificial ankle joint.
The goal of TAA is to provide pain relief while preserving some ankle motion to allow the patient to have less pain and improved function during activity.
TAA is considered for patients who continue to experience ankle pain and decreased function from arthritis despite trying conservative management. TAA is done to restore flexibility and function, in contrast to a fusion-type procedure that would eliminate the motion at the ankle joint.
TAA is not suited for patients with severe deformity or dead bone in the talus (the bottom bone of the ankle joint). Patients with a history of deep infections of the ankle, significantly abnormal nerve function or sensation (also known as peripheral neuropathy), inadequate or absent leg muscle function, and poor blood flow of the leg are not considered good candidates for a TAA.
Recovery from a total ankle replacement requires a period of non-weightbearing and immobilization. The patient usually will spend one to several nights in the hospital. After the surgical wounds are healed, the patient is allowed to start working on gentle range-of-motion activities. Weightbearing then usually begins a few weeks after surgery if X-rays show good healing.