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Arthrodesis of the Foot and Ankle - Laparoscopic Repair

General Information

Arthrodesis is a medical term that describes a surgical fusion or joining of two bones in a joint structure in your foot or ankle. The approach to fusion can be done in several different ways, including surgical pins or straps. Your doctor may opt to implant bone cells in a process known as a solid fusion of a joint for added stability. Laparoscopy offers surgeons an "inside view" of the body part without the need for a large incision. The laparoscope is a long, thin tube. A small camera is attached at one end. The camera transmits pictures of the inside of the joint onto a monitor or video screen in the surgical suite that allows the surgeon to view diseased or damaged tissues through a very small incision.

Reason for Arthrodesis

Individuals diagnosed with degenerative bone conditions in the foot or ankle joint, such as arthritis or osteoporosis, are candidates for laparoscopic arthrodesis. Laparoscopic surgery is also known as keyhole surgery or minimally invasive surgery (MIS).


In order to determine a need for arthrodesis, your doctor may schedule multiple tests that include:

  • Blood tests
  • X-rays
  • Bone scans
  • MRI (magnetic resonance imaging)
  • CT scans


Arthrodesis procedures are performed through internal, external, or intramedullary nail fixation.

  • External arthrodesis - uses an external fixation device placed on either side of the specific foot or anklebones being fused, with pins or screws inserted into the bone above and below the weakened area for support and stabilization during the healing process.
  • Internal arthrodesis - uses an internal fixation plate device that offers permanent fixation. The procedure must be accurate and precise, as once fixed, cannot be removed. Any adjustments are completed through repositioning of the plate.
  • Intramedullary nail fixation - immobilizes the two affected bones for treatment of osteoporosis or other degenerative conditions that make external or internal use of pins or screws unfeasible.

What to Expect

The time spent on a foot or ankle arthrodesis laparoscopic procedure will depend on the damage being repaired, the skill and experience of the surgeon and the presence of any surrounding joint or bone damage observed during the procedure. You may be given a regional block or you may opt for general anesthesia so you can sleep through the procedure. A laparoscopic arthrodesis procedure to the foot or ankle may last one to three hours, followed by a short recovery period.