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Scoping Out the Ankle: January 26, 2014

The technique of inserting a tiny camera into the body along with surgical tools has for a number of years helped doctors get into tight spaces. Called arthroscopic procedures, they are common today in knee and shoulder repairs. Now surgeons are lowering their sights - to the ankle.

“Studies prove that it’s the same exact outcomes as the older ways of doing it, except your not making a big open incision,” says Dr. Andrew Belis, foot and ankle surgeon on Lee Memorial Health System’s medical staff.

Historically, fixing a damaged ankle required an operation to open the area with a large incision to give surgeons access. In turn it required suturing to close the site, followed by downtime for healing. The arthroscopic approach is much less invasive.

“You’re using a lot small instrumentation. Which means a little camera into the ankle to be able to repair the ligament through two small punched incisions,” says Dr. Belis.

This surgery isn’t for everyone or every injury. Ankle arthroscopy can be used to mend torn ligaments from a bad sprain, repair cartilage damage and remove bone spurs - helping people who were living with pain because they wanted to avoid a major operation.

“Each patient, we’re finding we’re able to push the envelope and get them back to activity a little bit quicker. So it makes it a very exciting time to have this new procedure at our fingertips to be able to help these patients with chronic ankle weakness or chronic ankle instability,” says Dr. Belis.

It’s a new twist on surgery that is getting people back on their feet and moving.