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Ankle Arthroscopy

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Mar 5, 2023.


What you need to know about ankle arthroscopy:

Ankle arthroscopy is a procedure to look inside your ankle joint. Your healthcare provider will use an arthroscope (tube with a light and camera on the end) to see the joint. An arthroscopy can be used to remove, repair, or rebuild part of your ankle.

What will happen before for your procedure:

  • Tell your healthcare provider about all medicines you currently take. Your provider will tell you if you need to stop taking any of your medicines before the procedure. He or she will tell you which medicines to take or not take on the day of your procedure.
  • Tell your provider about any allergies you have. Tell him or her if you have ever had an allergic reaction to general anesthesia or contrast liquid. These may be used during your procedure.
  • You may need blood tests before your procedure. You may also need x-rays or a CT scan of your ankle.
  • Arrange to have someone drive you home after your procedure. If you will be having general anesthesia, the person should stay with you for 24 hours. The person will need to watch for signs of a reaction and call for help if needed.
  • Your healthcare provider may tell you not to eat or drink anything after midnight.

What will happen during your procedure:

Your healthcare provider may inject contrast liquid into your ankle. This will help him or her see your ankle joint better during the procedure. Your provider will make an incision on your ankle to insert the arthroscope. More small incisions will be made on your ankle. Tools will be inserted to remove or repair your ankle. Screws, stitches, or pins may be placed in your joint. A tool that burns tissue may be used to stop bleeding and remove ankle tissue. The incisions will be closed with stitches and wrapped with a bandage.

What will happen after your procedure:

You will be taken to a room to rest until you are fully awake. Healthcare providers will monitor you closely for any problems. Do not get out of bed until your healthcare provider says it is okay. When your healthcare provider sees that you are okay, you may be allowed to go home.

  • Do not get out of bed on your own until your healthcare provider says you can. Talk to healthcare providers before you get up the first time. They may need to help you stand up safely.
  • You may need a cast, brace, or splint on your ankle. This will help prevent movement so your ankle can heal. You may need to use crutches to help you move around.
  • Healthcare providers will prop your ankle on pillows to keep it above the level of your heart. This will help decrease swelling and pain.
  • Healthcare providers may give you medicine to take away or decrease your pain. Do not wait until the pain is severe to ask for your medicine. Pain medicine can make you dizzy or sleepy. Prevent falls by calling a healthcare provider when you want to get out of bed or if you need help.

Risks of an ankle arthroscopy:

Nerves, blood vessels, or tissues in your ankle may be damaged during the procedure. Your ankle may become stiff, numb, or painful. You may not be able to move your ankle as well as you could before your procedure. Your symptoms may not go away. You may need to have open surgery on your ankle.

Call your local emergency number (911 in the US) if:

  • You have trouble breathing.

Call your doctor or orthopedist if:

  • Blood soaks through your bandage.
  • Your stitches come apart.
  • Your splint or cast comes off.
  • You have a fever.
  • You have more pain in your ankle, even after you take pain medicines.
  • Your wound is red, swollen, or draining pus.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.


You may need any of the following:

  • Acetaminophen decreases pain and fever. It is available without a doctor's order. Ask how much to take and how often to take it. Follow directions. Read the labels of all other medicines you are using to see if they also contain acetaminophen, or ask your doctor or pharmacist. Acetaminophen can cause liver damage if not taken correctly.
  • Prescription pain medicine may be given. Ask your healthcare provider how to take this medicine safely. Some prescription pain medicines contain acetaminophen. Do not take other medicines that contain acetaminophen without talking to your healthcare provider. Too much acetaminophen may cause liver damage. Prescription pain medicine may cause constipation. Ask your healthcare provider how to prevent or treat constipation.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell your provider if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Wound care:

Keep your bandage clean and dry. When you are allowed to bathe, carefully wash the wound with soap and water. Dry the area and put on new, clean bandages as directed. Change your bandages when they get wet or dirty.


  • Rest your ankle as directed. A cast, brace, or splint may be needed until your ankle heals. Your healthcare provider will tell you when to start walking. You may need to use crutches at first. A physical or occupational therapist may show you how to stand and walk safely. You will also get instructions for when you can drive and do other daily activities.
  • Apply ice on your ankle to reduce swelling and pain. Use an ice pack, or put crushed ice in a plastic bag. Cover the bag with a towel before you apply it to your ankle. Apply ice for 15 to 20 minutes every hour, or as directed.
  • Elevate (raise) your ankle above the level of your heart as often as you can for 3 days. This will help decrease swelling and pain. Prop your ankle on pillows or blankets to keep it elevated comfortably.

Go to physical therapy if directed:

A physical therapist teaches you exercises to help improve movement and strength, and to decrease pain.

Follow up with your doctor or orthopedist as directed:

You will need to return to have your wound checked and stitches removed. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.