General Risks of Foot and Ankle Surgery

1 Infection: you will be given antibiotics during your operation to reduce the risk, occasionally however, an infection still develops in the wound, which usually settles with a course of antibiotics. Very rarely the infection can go to the bone and require other treatment. The risk of developing an infection is higher if you smoke or have diabetes.

2 Nerve damage: Nerves may need to be moved during surgery, this may lead to a temporary period of numbness, occasionally the nerve scars and this can lead to a permanently painful spot called a neuroma, if this occurs further treatment may be required.

3 Non union: If the surgery being undertaken involves cutting bones and resetting them (osteotomies) or a fusion procedure there is a chance that the bones may not join up. The risk of this is generally less than 10% but may be higher in some circumstances for example if you smoke. If this occurs then further surgery may be required to encourage the bone to join.

4 Blood clots: Fortunately this is uncommon, but can lead to swelling and pain in the leg. It is important that you tell me if you or one of your relatives have had a blood clot before. If a blood clot occurs in the leg part of it can break off and go to the lung to cause breathing problems. If the operation is long or requires immobilisation in plaster then you may be given blood thinning injections in the early period after the operation. The risk of blood clots is higher if you smoke.

5 Stiffness: The joints in the foot and the ankle may become stiff, it is important to perform exercises as instructed following surgery (some of the operations intentionally make the joints stiff- i.e. when a fusion is performed).

6 Pain: The pain that you have prior to surgery may never be completely removed; very occasionally the nerves around the foot/ ankle can react following the trauma of surgery and cause pain (chronic regional pain syndrome), which would require further treatment.

7 Scar sensitivity: The scar may be sensitive for a while, but this usually settles with some massaging of the scar (this should not be done until at least three weeks after surgery).

8 Need for further surgery: for example if the bones did not join up following a fusion operation.

9 Anaesthetic risks: There are risks to your heart and lungs, these are uncommon in this type of surgery and please ask the anaesthetist if you have any questions regarding these.

There may be further risks associated with specific surgery and will be discussed with you prior to your surgery.