Triple Arthrodesis: What is it?
The goal of this type of surgery is to fuse or glue together (arthrodesis) 3 joints of the back of the foot (triple arthrodesis). It is a very useful operation to correct various types of deformity of the foot as well as certain types of arthritis of the back of the foot. This type of surgery does not typically affect the up and down movement (dorsiflexion and plantarflexion) of the foot and ankle.
The side to side movement (inversion and eversion) of the back of the foot is affected, and will no longer be present. Usually however for most patients who require the triple arthrodesis, most of this side to side movement has already been lost. The lack of this side to side movement will be noticeable when walking on uneven ground surfaces. This does not, however, cause any pain, and all types of exercise are permitted following a triple arthrodesis.
Screws/plates are inserted into the heel bone to hold the joint together while the fusion occurs. Once the joint is fused the screws are not necessary, but are rarely removed. Following the arthrodesis, a return to activity and exercise is important which is made easier with physical therapy and regular exercise.
Triple Arthrodesis - Postoperative Recovery
- You will not be walking on the leg for about 6 weeks. This depends on how quickly your bone starts to heal.
- In order to stay off your foot, you will need to use crutches, a walker, a wheelchair or a scooter type device called a roll-about.
- There will be a hard plaster bandage applied to the leg for two weeks after surgery.
- Your first follow up visit will be at approximately 2 weeks We will usually apply a removable boot for you to wear at this time.
- If the surgery is on your left ankle, you should be able to drive an automatic vehicle at two weeks. If the surgery is on the right foot, you may drive between 3 and 4 weeks.
- You may begin to walk with the boot at about 6 weeks, depending upon your level of discomfort, and the instructions given to you.
- Physical therapy is helpful to regain the strength and movement of the ankle.
- You should plan to use a physical therapist for about 1-2 months.
- There will be moderate swelling of the foot, ankle, and leg for about 6 months.
- You will continue to improve your strength and movement for about 9 months after the surgery.
- You can expect to have some soreness and aching for about 4-6 months after surgery.
Triple Arthrodesis - Specific Post-Operative Course
- Foot wrapped in bulky bandage and splint, ice, elevate, take pain medication as needed
- Do not change the bandage
- The dressing is changed, and a boot is applied
- No weight bearing for about 4 weeks
- Start walking in the boot
- Start an exercise program
- Allowed sneaker