Arthroscopy is a procedure where a small video camera attached to a fiberoptic lens is inserted into the body to allow a physician or surgeon to see without making a large incision. Arthroscopy is now used to evaluate and treat orthopedic problems in many different joints of the body. The ankle joint is one of the common joints that arthroscopy is used to evaluate and treat problems with this minimally invasive technique.

This guide will help you understand

  • What parts of the ankle are treated during ankle arthroscopy
  • What types of conditions are treated with ankle arthroscopy
  • What to expect before and after ankle arthroscopy


What parts of the ankle are involved?



The ankle joint is formed by the connection of three bones. The top of the talus fits inside a socket that is formed by the lower end of the tibia (shinbone) and the fibula (the small bone of the lower leg). The bottom of the talus sits on the heel bone, called the calcaneus.

Ligaments are tough bands of tissue that connect bones together. Three ligaments make up the lateral ligament complex on the side of the ankle farthest from the other ankle. They are the anterior talofibular ligament (ATFL), the calcaneofibular ligament (CFL), and the posterior talofibular ligament (PTFL).

The common ankle sprain, or inversion injury to the ankle, usually involves two ligaments, the ATFL and CFL. Normally, the ATFL keeps the ankle from sliding forward, and the CFL keeps the ankle from rolling inward on its side. On the side of the ankle joint closest to the other foot (the medial side) is another ligament called the deltoid ligament.

The deltoid ligament can be torn, but it is usually torn in a combination of injuries when the ankle is broken; it is uncommon to injure the deltoid ligament alone.

The ankle joint is surrounded by a water tight pocket called the joint capsule. This capsule is formed by ligaments, connective tissue and synovial tissue. When the joint capsule is filled with sterile saline and is distended, the surgeon can insert the arthroscope into the pocket that is formed, turn on the lights and the camera and see inside the hip joint as if looking into an aquarium. The surgeon can see the structures that are inside the ankle joint including the joint surfaces of the distal tibia, fibula and talus and the synovial lining of the joint.