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Ankle Arthroscopy

Ankle arthroscopy is a surgical procedure used to diagnose and treat problems with your ankle joint.

Clinican wrapping medical bandage aid around paitents ankle joint
An ankle arthroscopy is a type of keyhole surgery used for examining or repairing your ankle joint.

During keyhole (arthroscopic) surgery, a thin fibreoptic camera called an arthroscope is inserted into the joint through a tiny incision (cut) in the skin. The camera is connected to a monitor that allows your surgeon to examine the inside of your ankle joint and identify any problems. If needed, surgical instruments can be inserted into the joint through a separate incision, allowing your surgeon to correct any damage.

Call 0141 300 5009 or book online today to arrange a consultation to discuss having a private ankle arthroscopy with a consultant of your choice at Circle Health Group.

This page explains what ankle arthroscopy is, the conditions it can treat, and what to expect during the procedure.

Ankle arthroscopy

Please be aware that the following prices are a guide price. Your final price will be confirmed in writing following your consultation and any necessary diagnostic tests.

Patient pathway Initial consultation Diagnostic Investigations Main treatment Post discharge care Guide price
Hospital fees N/A Not included £5,064 Included £5,064
Consultants fees from* £200 N/A Included Included £1,411
Guide price £6,475

* Includes Anaesthetist fee


An arthroscopy can help identify the cause of distressing symptoms in your ankle, including pain, swelling, stiffness, weakness, or reduced movement. It is often used when other tests such as X-rays or MRI scans haven’t identified the problem.

An ankle arthroscopy is also used to treat some conditions affecting your ankle.

An ankle arthroscopy can be used to treat several conditions affecting your ankle, including:

  • Arthritis
  • Sprains
  • Fractures
  • Joint instability
  • Osteochondral injuries
  • Fusion of your ankle bones
  • Damage to your tendons or ligaments
  • Removal of bone fragments
  • Removal of scar tissue

At Circle Health Group, your first consultation will be with a consultant orthopaedic surgeon. This is a type of doctor who specialises in problems with your bones, joints, muscles, tendons, and ligaments.

At this consultation, your consultant will ask you some questions about your general health and what symptoms you are experiencing. They will examine your ankle, looking for any redness, swelling, visible injury, or deformity. They may apply firm pressure to your ankle to check for areas of pain or tenderness and check how well you can move your ankle.

If you have had previous investigations such as an X-ray, or MRI scan, take them with you so your consultant can examine them. They might organise for you to have one of these on the day of your consultation.

At the end of your appointment, your consultant will decide whether an ankle arthroscopy is suitable for you based on your symptoms, physical examination, and any previous test results. They will explain what happens during the procedure, discuss the risks and benefits of surgery, and tell you what to expect after your surgery and your likely recovery time.

Why is this first consultation so important?

Your first consultation at Circle Health Group is important because it's during this appointment that we get to know you, discuss any concerns you have, answer your questions, and learn about your expectations for surgery.

It's important that you are as comfortable and well-informed as possible before your surgery, so please ask your consultant any questions you may have.

There are many benefits of using arthroscopic surgery over traditional (open) surgery, including:

  • Lower risk of scarring
  • Less time in hospital
  • Lower risk of infection
  • Faster healing
  • Faster recovery and rehabilitation
  • In many cases, a better result

Before your procedure, your consultant will tell you everything you need to do to prepare for your surgery.

Being prepared for your ankle arthroscopy will help you know what to expect before, during, and after your procedure and hopefully help you feel comfortable and assured about having surgery. Feel free to ask your consultant as many questions as you like before your surgery.

Tell your consultant about any health conditions or allergies you have and any other medications you are taking.

Your consultant may tell you to stop taking some medications such as blood thinners or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) before your operation. This is to reduce the risk of bleeding during your procedure.

If you are having a general anaesthetic, you will not be able to eat or drink anything from midnight on the day of your surgery. You will not be able to drive home after the procedure, either, but we can arrange for a taxi to collect you from hospital, if needed. You can also arrange to be collected by a friend or family member.

What lifestyle changes can I make before surgery?

You can help prepare for your procedure by being as healthy as possible in the weeks leading up to your surgery. Some things you can do include:

  • If you smoke, try to give up at least eight weeks before your surgery
  • Stick to safe limits when drinking alcohol
  • It's best to avoid alcohol for a few days before and after your surgery. Alcohol thins your blood and may increase the risk of bleeding
  • Eat a balanced diet with plenty of fruit, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains
  • Lose weight if you need to

What preparations do I need to make for after my surgery?

After your ankle arthroscopy, you will have a bulky dressing or splint on your ankle. You may be able to walk straight away after your operation, or you may need to rest and elevate your leg for a period of time - your consultant will tell you for how long. You may be given crutches and a special boot to wear after surgery.

Some things you can do to prepare for after  surgery include:

  • Have loose-fitting, comfortable clothes such as a skirt or shorts ready to wear after your procedure
  • Prepare single-portion meals that can be easily warmed up
  • Arrange for someone to stay with you for a few days, or check in regularly to help with daily activities and household chores
  • Keep things you use a lot, like the TV remote control, books, and medicines within easy reach
  • Remove items you could trip over like low tables, rugs, and electrical cords
  • Getting upstairs may be difficult after your ankle arthroscopy. If applicable to you, it may be easier to sleep downstairs while you recover from surgery

An ankle arthroscopy is normally done as a day case, which means you'll be able to go home the same day as the procedure.

Before your surgery, your ankle will be cleaned with antiseptic to reduce the risk of infection. Your orthopaedic surgeon will scrub their hands and put on a sterile gown, hat, mask, and surgical gloves.

Ankle arthroscopy is usually performed under regional anaesthetic (which means you are awake but can't feel anything from the waist down) or you may be given a general anaesthetic.

When your anaesthetic has taken effect, your surgeon will make a small incision into your ankle and insert the arthroscope (a small flexible camera). Your ankle may be put under gentle traction (pulled straight) and fluid may be injected into your joint to allow your surgeon to see more clearly. If there are areas that need to be treated, your surgeon can insert medical instruments through a separate incision and carry out repairs such as removing bone fragments and scar tissue, or fusing the joint.

Ankle arthroscopy normally takes between thirty minutes and two hours.

When your surgery is complete, your incisions will be stitched and a sterile dressing and bandage applied.

An ankle arthroscopy is different for everyone and what happens during your surgery will depend on your individual case and your reason for having the procedure. Talk to your consultant about what will happen during your surgery for a more detailed account specific to your needs.

After your ankle arthroscopy, you will be taken to your room to recover. You can usually go home on the same day as your arthroscopy.

Recovering from surgery is different for everyone and depends on many factors such as your general health, the type of surgery you had, and your age.

Your consultant will give you instructions on what to do after your surgery. You may be able to walk straight away, or you may be given crutches, and have your ankle immobilised in a splint.

Your surgeon may tell you to rest and elevate your leg and give you gentle exercises to do at home. In some cases, you may start physiotherapy after a few weeks to strengthen your muscles and improve your mobility.

When can I go back to work?

When you can go back to work depends on the type of surgery you had, and what kind of job you do. You can expect to be off work for at least one to two weeks after your surgery. Talk to your consultant about when you can expect to go back to work.

Can I drive home from the hospital?

You will not be able to drive home from hospital, so ask someone to collect you, or we can arrange for a taxi to collect you if you prefer.

How soon you can drive after your operation depends on the type of procedure you had. As a rule, you can probably drive between one and two weeks after a simple procedure, but it may be as much as three months after an ankle fusion.

Before you drive, make sure you can use the pedals without pain and perform an emergency stop safely.

Talk to your consultant about when you can expect to drive after your surgery.

When will I be back to normal after my ankle arthroscopy?

Recovery from an ankle arthroscopy is different for everyone, and it's important that you recover at your own pace and follow your consultant's instructions carefully.

In general, you can start walking short distances after about a week and resume gentle exercise after around three to four weeks. Your swelling should subside within about three months.

Talk to your consultant about when you can expect to be back to normal after your ankle arthroscopy.

Ankle arthroscopy is a minimally invasive procedure, and the risk of complications is low. But as with all surgery, complications may occur. Your consultant will explain all the possible risks and complications to you before your procedure so that you can make an informed decision.

You will also have a complete physical examination and preoperative tests to make sure you are fit for surgery.

Being well-informed about your surgery and what to do during your recovery will minimise the risk of complications and help speed your recovery.

General risks of surgery include:

  • Shock
  • Blood loss
  • Infection
  • Blood clots
  • Chest problems
  • Problems passing urine (urinary retention)
  • Allergic reaction to anaesthesia

Some risks and possible complications specific to ankle arthroscopy include:

  • Numbness
  • Wound infection
  • Infection of the joint
  • Bleeding into the joint

We answer some commonly asked questions about ankle arthroscopy:

How long after an ankle arthroscopy can I fly?

Flying can increase swelling, so it isn't advisable to fly for at least 24 to 48 hours after your surgery. If you are planning to fly soon after your procedure, check with your consultant that it is safe to do so.

How can I get rid of oedema after an ankle arthroscopy?

It's normal to have some oedema (swelling) after your arthroscopy. You can help to reduce the swelling by:

  • Resting your ankle
  • Elevating your leg as much as possible
  • Applying ice packs such as a bag of frozen peas wrapped in a cloth - never apply ice directly to your skin
  • Taking painkillers such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Check with your consultant that it is safe for you to do so

Swelling may take up to three months to subside completely after ankle arthroscopy. If your swelling is severe, getting worse, or not getting better, contact your consultant for advice.

When can I take off the dressing after an ankle arthroscopy?

Your dressing normally stays in place for around three days after your surgery. Keep your dressing clean and dry and follow your consultant's instructions about when to remove it after your surgery.

At Circle Health Group we have the experience and expertise to ensure the best possible care and outcome for our patients. As a patient with Circle Health Group, you can expect the highest standards of care including:

  • Flexible appointment times and locations that are convenient for you
  • The freedom to choose which hospital and consultant best suit your needs
  • Personalised, consultant-led treatment plans tailored to your individual needs
  • Comfortable and safe private facilities maintained by expert multidisciplinary teams
  • Private ensuite rooms as standard
  • A range of delicious healthy meals
  • Affordable, fixed-price packages with aftercare included
  • Flexible payment options to help you spread the cost of your care

If you would like to see a consultant or learn more about having an ankle arthroscopy, book your appointment today or call a member of our team directly on 0141 300 5009.

Content reviewed by Circle in-house team in November 2022. Next review due November 2025.

  1. What is an arthroscopy? ,NHS
  2. Patient Information: Ankle arthroscopy, West Sussex NHS Foundation Trust 
  3. Ankle Arthroscopic Surgery, PubMed
  4. Evidence-based indications for ankle arthroscopy, PubMed

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