In case of arthrodesis, the cartilage that remains at the level of the articular surfaces is removed with the aim of letting the particular bones grow together. Unlike an osteotomy, which aims at rearranging bone fragments of the same bone in relation to each other, while preserving the mobility of the surrounding joints, an arthrodesis will sacrifice the mobility of a joint, with the aim of eliminating the pain completely.
Such an operation also allows much larger corrections and will usually be performed on joints, which barely show a movement as yet. The little movement that such joints have yet is precisely the cause of the pain.
Almost all pathologies and all the joints of the ankle and the foot can benefit from such an operation. The more severe the deformity is, the more likely that the adjustment should be done through an arthrodesis.
Depending on its location, osteoarthritis or a significant impairment of a joint, requires the performance of an arthrodesis, at least if the goal is to obtain a correction and permanent indolence. The only joints at the height of the ankle and the foot where a prosthesis can be placed are the ankle itself and the metatarsophalangeal joints.
A relative contra-indication is the presence of degenerative abnormalities at the level of the adjacent joints. Sacrificing the mobility of a joint, even if previously movement was barely possible, will increase the pressure on other adjacent joints. Because of that, these joints can get more painful and more symptomatic. Poor blood circulation in the leg and severe osteoporosis are other contra-indications.
You usually remain in hospital for a few days after this kind of surgery (1 to 4 days). Since the material, used to fix the bones in the right position, is not strong enough to bear your weight, you will be prompted not to lean on the lower limb that was operated for some time after surgery.
This period can range from 4 to 12 weeks, depending on the type of surgery and your treating surgeon. The immobilization will take about the same time.