Patient Education


Zimmer® Trabecular Metal™ Total Ankle

Mid Florida Ortho

Designed to restore natural movement.

Total ankle arthroplasty is intended to provide patients with limited mobility of the ankle, by reducing pain and preserving the flexion/extension (up and down) movement within the ankle joint.

The Zimmer Trabecular Metal Total Ankle replacement system is an innovative design intended to replace the articulating surfaces of the ankle that have been affected by disease or injury. This system brings contemporary advances realized in knee and hip arthroplasty technology to total ankle arthroplasty while utilizing a lateral (side) surgical approach.

Why Does My Ankle Hurt?

In a healthy ankle, a layer of cartilage “cushions” the joint and protects the surface of the bones as the ankle moves. When the cartilage is damaged or worn away, the bones may rub together, causing friction, pain, and eventual deterioration of the bone surfaces. The most common cause of cartilage deterioration is wear and tear, called osteoarthritis. This condition may be triggered by other traumatic events, resulting in post-traumatic arthritis.

Since no medication or treatment can make the damaged cartilage grow back, an ankle replacement procedure is the only way to relieve severe pain while maintaining function of the joint.

Is it Time for Ankle Replacement?

That’s a question you and your orthopedic surgeon will have to answer together. But when ankle pain is so bad it actually interferes with the things you want or need to do, the time may be right. Here are some signs to consider:

Medication and using a cane are not delivering enough relief.
Pain is keeping you up at night.
You have given up activities you used to enjoy.
You are no longer as mobile as you’d like to be.

Ankle Replacement

What Happens During Ankle Replacement Surgery?

It’s the same idea as having most things fixed – worn parts are taken out, and new parts are installed in their place. In surgery, the damaged portions of the lower end of your shin bone (tibia) and the top of your foot bone (talus) are removed. Through a lateral approach, the metal parts of the Zimmer Trabecular Metal Total Ankle implant are attached by placing them tightly against the bones and utilizing special cement to fix portions of the components to the bone. To finish, the fibula will be repositioned with a metal plate and the incision is closed.

What Happens Afterward?

Considering the complexity of your surgery, your doctor will give you specific instructions on wound care, pain control, and when you can resume other activities like walking with both feet.

Generally after surgery, you will be in a well-padded splint for the first 2-3 weeks. You can use a wheel chair or crutches during this time. After that you will transition to a boot, but you will still need to use crutches or a roll-about until your doctor gives you permission to put full weight on your ankle.

What Risks are Involved?

As with any surgery, the general risks of total ankle replacement surgery include bleeding, blood clot, and infection. More specific risks for ankle replacement surgery are:

Ankle weakness, stiffness, or instability
Loosening of the artificial joint over time
Skin not healing after surgery
Nerve damage
Blood vessel damage
Bone break during surgery
Dislocation of the artificial joint
Allergic reaction to the artificial joint
Poor range of motion
Pain and inflammation
Fibula not healing
Tendon or ligament damage

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Can I get an ankle replacement if I have a fused ankle?
Your orthopedic surgeon will determine if you are a suitable candidate, but it is possible to get an ankle replacement even if you have already had an ankle fusion. The surgeon would remove the metal screws and perform a total ankle replacement surgery.

Q: Will I set off metal detectors?
Metal detectors may be set off due to the metal in your implant. A Patient ID card may be requested through the surgeon, which is provided by the manufacturer. This ID card will identify that you have an ankle replacement so you may notify security prior to going through a metal detector; however, additional screening may be required to pass through security. You may also want to show this card when getting x-rays and MRIs.

Q: What is the implant made of?
The components are made of special metal and polyethylene that have been used in artificial hips and knees for many years.
Specifically, the tibia component is made of Tivanium® alloy and the talus component is made of cobalt chrome. The plastic bearing is made of a unique wear resistant material (polyethylene) which has been used in other joints successfully for many years.

Q: How long will it last?
Every patient is different. Many factors can influence the longevity of a joint replacement implant like activity levels, weight, and your compliance with the instructions given by your orthopedic surgeon.

Q: Will insurance cover it?
Yes. This procedure is covered by most major insurance carriers along with Medicare and Medicaid.

Alert Physicians and Dentists

In order to avoid infection and protect this new part of your body, always notify your physicians and dentists that you have an ankle replacement.

* Information provided by Zimmer Biomet Creative Lab