Ankle Cheilectomy

What is an ankle cheilectomy?

An ankle cheilectomy removes a bone spur from the talus or tibia, which are bones of the ankle joint.

 

  X-ray showing the location of a bone spur.

 
  

What is the goal of an ankle cheilectomy?

The goal of an ankle cheilectomy is to relieve ankle pain caused by bone impingement or pinching at the front of the ankle.
 

What signs indicate surgery may be needed?

If you have pain at the front of the ankle that does not improve with nonsurgical treatment, an ankle cheilectomy may be considered. The pain is usually worse with upward bending (dorsiflexion) of the ankle. The pain is typically caused by a bone spur.
 

When should I avoid surgery?

An ankle cheilectomy is not indicated if you have severe ankle arthritis. Removal of bone spurs in arthritic ankles does not typically improve pain. More arthritis means less benefit from the surgery.
 

General Details of Procedure

An ankle cheilectomy can be performed arthroscopically (minimally invasive) or with an open procedure. The choice for open or arthroscopic procedure is made based on the size of the spur and the preference of the surgeon.
 

Specific Techniques

Arthroscopic: When an ankle arthroscopy is performed, a camera is placed into the ankle joint through a small incision. The cartilage and soft tissues inside the ankle joint are examined and the bone spur is seen with the camera. It is removed with an instrument such as a burr or chisel placed into the ankle through a separate small incision.
 
Open: An incision is made at the front of the ankle. The ankle joint is opened, and the bone spur is identified and removed with a chisel.
 

What happens after surgery?

Activity after surgery may depend on the size of the bone spur and the degree of swelling or bleeding that occurs during surgery. There may be a period where you may not be allowed to put any weight, or only partial weight, on the ankle. This usually lasts for one to three weeks. Physical therapy is then typically started, and weight bearing and activity are generally increased as tolerated.
 

Potential Complications

There are complications that relate to surgery in general. These include the risks associated with anesthesia, infection, damage to nerves and blood vessels, and bleeding or blood clots.
 
Patients may experience loss of feeling at the top of the foot after this procedure. Pain may not improve after this surgery, and an increase in ankle pain can occur. While many patients do experience a significant reduction of pain with this procedure, there is a risk of recurrence of the pain after surgery as underlying arthritis progresses. However, the overall complication rate for this surgery is low.
 

Frequently Asked Questions

Will I regain range of motion in my ankle if the bone spur is removed?
Range of motion may increase after removal of bone spurs. This does not always occur as soft tissues such as tendons and ligaments around the ankle may still be tight, and these tissues also affect ankle motion.
 
The American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society (AOFAS) offers information on this site as an educational service. The content of FootCareMD, including text, images and graphics, is for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to substitute for professional medical advice, diagnoses or treatments. If you need medical advice, use the "Find an Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Surgeon" tool at the top of this page or contact your primary doctor.