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Preserving Ankle Motion With Total Ankle Replacement Surgery

Spencer Monaco, DPM, Foot & Ankle

Ankle arthritis is a leading cause of debilitating ankle pain and swelling. Arthritis of the ankle joint can occur from normal “wear and tear” of the joint or more commonly from a history of an ankle injury. When normal smooth cartilage wears down, it leads to pain, swelling, inflammation, and difficulty walking. Symptoms may make it difficult to maintain a healthy active lifestyle and perform normal day to day activities.

Foot and ankle surgeons can perform procedures such as camera assisted joint clean out for mild forms of arthritis to fusion (stiffening of the joint) to total joint replacement as the condition becomes more severe. Ankle replacement surgery has gained popularity amongst surgeons and patients as this procedure allows patients to preserve their normal ankle motion and remove painful bone in bone arthritis.

Total ankle replacement surgery involves the removal of the arthritic joint while replacing both the tibia (shin bone) and talus (ankle bone) with metal components. The space between each metal surface is separated by a plastic component to allow for a smooth range of motion which can improve a patient’s ability to walk. Significant advancements have been made over the last decade from surgeon techniques, experience, and implant design to facilitate an easier recovery with reproducible results.

Initial consultation includes a physical exam to evaluate the arthritic ankle and imaging such as X-rays and CT scans to further evaluate the overall health of the ankle joint and facilitate ankle replacement surgery. The CT scan can be used to create patient specific instrumentation with 3D custom printing of the ankle joint anatomy. This approach allows more customization to each patient’s needs and to increase the longevity of the implant. Once your ankle joint has been replaced, post-operative recovery will include a period of non-weight bearing (2 to 6 weeks) followed by a walking boot and physical therapy. Normal activity can be resumed after 2 to 3 months following surgery, however, can vary depending on each patient’s condition.


Spencer Monaco, DPM is a foot & ankle surgeon with Premier Orthopaedics. Dr. Monaco welcomes new patients at his offices in Kennett Square, West Grove, and West Chester. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Monaco call, 610-692-6280 or visit

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