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"I could have a proper ankle" - a qualitative study of patients' perceptions of total ankle replacement and ankle fusion surgery.

Anderson, Anna M.; Chapman, Lara S.; Siddle, Heidi J.; Watson, Sue; Klugerman, Jane; Antcliff, Deborah; Keenan, Anne-Maree; Brockett, Claire L.

"I could have a proper ankle" - a qualitative study of patients' perceptions of total ankle replacement and ankle fusion surgery. Thumbnail


Anna M. Anderson

Lara S. Chapman

Heidi J. Siddle

Sue Watson

Jane Klugerman

Anne-Maree Keenan

Claire L. Brockett


BACKGROUND: End-stage ankle osteoarthritis typically causes severe pain and impaired function. Surgical treatment involves total ankle replacement (TAR) or ankle fusion. Definitive evidence about which procedure is optimal is lacking. No previous studies have thoroughly explored patients' experiences across the entire TAR/ankle fusion pathway. This study aimed to address this gap by exploring perceptions of surgery, education, rehabilitation and outcomes among patients who had undergone TAR or ankle fusion. METHODS: Seven participants were purposively selected from an orthopaedic centre in northern England (3 females, 4 males). Participants had undergone primary TAR without revision (n?=?2), TAR requiring revision (n?=?3) or ankle fusion (n?=?2). Each participant completed a single semi-structured interview. Interviews were digitally recorded, transcribed verbatim and analysed thematically. RESULTS: Three themes, each with two subthemes, were identified: decision-making (seeking help; surgical options), perceptions of support (information/education; clinical support) and impact on the individual (personal circumstances and beliefs; post-operative outcomes). Pain affecting participants' valued activities was key to their decision to seek help. Participants' decision between TAR and ankle fusion was influenced by multiple factors. Concerns regarding the lack of joint flexibility following fusion were highlighted, with some participants perceiving TAR as a "proper ankle" that would enable them to avoid limping. Participants obtained information from various sources, with most feeling that the education from their care team was inadequate. Participants' individual circumstances and beliefs influenced their decision-making and perceptions of their post-operative outcomes. Finally, whilst most participants were pleased with their outcomes, some experienced substantial ongoing problems such as difficulty walking and chronic pain. CONCLUSIONS: This study demonstrates the importance of providing adequate education about TAR and ankle fusion to enable patients to make informed decisions. Most participants felt that the education and clinical support they received did not fully meet their needs. Participants' personal circumstances and beliefs had a strong influence on their decision-making and perceptions of their post-operative outcomes, highlighting the need to personally tailor education and clinical support. Future work with a larger sample of patients and other key stakeholders is required to develop consensus-based guidelines on pre- and post-operative support for patients undergoing TAR/ankle fusion.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Dec 1, 2022
Online Publication Date Dec 12, 2022
Publication Date Dec 12, 2022
Journal Journal of Foot and Ankle Research
Publisher Springer Verlag
Volume 15
Issue 1
Article Number 88
Keywords Total ankle replacement; Ankle fusion; Patient education; Rehabilitation
Publisher URL
PMID 36503504
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