Ankle Fusion

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I broke both of my ankles back in high school and years later I am now in end stage degenerative arthritis. I had a replacement in my right ankle 5 years ago but due to my left ankle being compromised as well it is now failing. I am told by my doctor that my only choice is  a fusion of my left ankle and then to replace the replacement in my right. At 39 years old, I am devastated. Bright side is I will be out of pain. Please share your experiences with ankle fusion. Your replies are much appreciated.

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  • Posted

    Dear Chelle

    Very sorry to hear about your ankle problems. Sorry but I do not have any experience of ankle fusion.

    I had an ankle replacement five years ago at age 70 rather than a fusion. It was fine to start with but is having to be revised due to osteolysis very likely caused by the prosthesis having been put in incorrectly. I'm a very active person and carried on with building and farming work.

    This failing ankle and the need to replace the prosthesis has given me loads of grief, however it has meant that I have done a lot of research so as to give myself the best chance of a good outcome on what is bound to be a difficult surgery.

    Please can you go into more detail as to why your doctor or surgeon is saying that your left ankle needs to be fused rather than having a TAR. Also how is he going to deal with your right ankle that you had a TAR installed in it. Where do you live and how old are you!

    Cheers Richard

    • Posted

      Hi Richard,

      I have been doing loads of research as well. I live in Vancouver, WA but my STAR ankle replacement was done in Boise, ID by Dr. Michael Coughlin. Insurance changes forced me to find another surgeon. In my shock of hearing that he recommended that I do an ankle fusion I failed to process the fact that he does not do ankle replacement. I am going to get a second opinion and am also going to speak with my old surgeon whol placed my right ankle replacement to hear his thoughts.

      I am an active 39 year old female. I strongly believe that a replacement would be beneficial for me. Fusion leads to arthritis in other joints and due to my age I would most likely end up with replaced knees and hips in the future. 

      His decision for a fusion over a replacement is based off of having bilateral ankle issues. I am thinking he just lacks experience.

    • Posted

      Dear Chelle

      I'm sure that you are correct in thinking that the new surgeons jack of experience is why he suggested a fusion rather than a TAR...also the reason you were put into him by the insurance company may have been down to cost!

      Beware that lots of surgeons will do a TAR but many are not good at it. Here in the UK lots do it but most do so few each year that there is no way in which they can get enough practice to be experienced enough in the surgery.

      As I'm sure you appreciate it is a complicated procedure where accuracy and excellent alignment is essential for good results, so please choose carefully.

      Best of luck, Richard

  • Posted

    Hello chelle197.  I am now 65 yrs & also have degenerative arthritis on mt right ankle.  Also sprained my Rt Ankle back in the '70s.  I am taking compound medications for pain killers.  It helps.  But has limitations.  Now I am contemplating to have a TAR on my Rt Ankle.  Going to have a second opinion to another doctor.

    How did your Rt Ankle replacement fail?

    • Posted

      Hello lawrence42786,

      The reason my replacement fail after only 5 years is that I have degenerative arthritis in my left ankle as well.  I have been overcompensating on my replaced ankle to make up for the limitations of my left ankle.

      My hope is to get a second opinion, have a TAR in my left ankle and then replace the TAR on my right ankle. Hopefully that will solve many of my issues. 

      I highly recommend the TAR. My bilateral ankle issues make mine a special case.


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