Post Op Instructions for Reconstructive Surgery of the Ankle or Foot

If you have elected to have flatfooot surgery or any reconstructive surgery by Dr. Campitelli, the following instructions will be very informative for you, and answer most questions you may have after your surgery.

Reconstructive surgery of the foot or ankle is highly intricate and involved and can take hours to perform.  In doing so, the foot, ankle, and leg will experience a great deal of swelling post operatively.  This is completely normal. In the first 24-48 hours, you may experience severe shooting pain in the area of your surgery.  This can be normal.  The severe pain usually resolves in 48 hours.  Also during the first 24-48 hours you may see bleeding at the surgical site.  This is also considered normal.  Bleeding after 24 hours that is saturating the bandages and dripping would be a concern and Dr. Campitelli should be notified by calling the office at 330-926-3231.  If it is after hours, Dr. Campitelli can be paged.

Reconstruction surgery of the foot and ankle requires the foot to be splinted in a position that is 90 degrees to the leg.  This helps to preserve motion to the ankle by preventing contraction of the Achilles tendon.  It also helps to keep the ankle in a rectus position so that when walking is resumed, a tight Achilles tendon isn’t preventing normal ankle join range of motion.

Post Operative Treatment

Most reconstruction procedures are now performed as an outpatient procedure and allow the patient to return home the same day of surgery.  If a nerve block was performed on the knee, it is possible that you will have pain relief or numbness for 24 hours after your surgery. If you did not have this done, the pain can begin as early as 6-8 hours after your surgery as this is when the local anesthesia will wear off from the area of surgery.  A reconstruction procedure will typically involve the use of large screws and anchors to hold bones and tendons in proper alignment after surgery.  This can create a significant amount of tension and discomfort on the foot, ankle, and leg.  This is normal.   If your pain is not significantly reduced in 5-7 days after surgery, please inform the office by calling 330-926-3231

Your foot and ankle will have been placed in a soft cast or splint, or even a cam walker after surgery.  It is imperative that you remain off of the foot for the entire time after surgery until you are instructed to begin bearing weigh to your foot.  In the event that your foot touches the ground while trying to stand or brace yourself it is unlikely that any disruption of the fixation will occur.  At your next appointment X-rays can be taken to confirm healing and make sure correction of the foot or ankle is maintained.

Most reconstructive surgeries of the foot and ankle take months to recover from.  As an example, the typical flatfoot procedure will require a patient to be non weight bearing for 6 weeks, followed by wearing a cam walker for 6 weeks.  After this, return to regular activity can take up to 6-8 more weeks depending on the demands of one’s job or daily activities.  It’s not uncommon for a patient to take up to one year to recover from a reconstructive surgery of the foot or ankle.

Swelling

You will experience swelling of your foot and ankle for many months after an ankle or foot reconstruction.  I routinely tell my patients they will experience swelling for up to one year after surgery.  The best way to reduce or control your swelling is by elevation of your leg when you are at rest.  Your leg should be evaluated high enough to allow the fluid to flow form the foot or leg back to your body.  When questioning how high your leg should be, your leg should be high enough to let the fluid run out of your foot or ankle.  It also also common to see swelling as high as the knee in major reconstructive surgeries.  If, however, you are experiencing severe redness and swelling in the calf muscle that is painful, this could indicate a blood clot which is a medical emergency.  Blood clots are more common in the following individuals:

– smokers

– if you are taking birth control or oral contraceptives

– overweight

– clotting disorders

– previous history of a blood clot

If you have one or any of the above conditions, and have signs and symptoms of a blood clot as described, this is a medical emergency and you should seek immediate attention at the emergency room if unable to reach the office.

Bandages

Dr. Campitelli will change your bandages place a cast or splint back on at your first post operative visit.   You will be required to keep your bandages and cast in place for two weeks without getting wet until the next post operative visit.  If you do get the bandages or cast wet, please call the office at 330-926-3231 for instructions on what to do.  In the meantime allow bandages to air dry.

Signs of Infection

It is rare for infection to occur immediately after your procedure. If post operative infections occur, they are usually 5-7 days after your procedure. If you are experiencing pain immediately after your surgery it is normal.

Signs of infection can include any of the following:

Redness extending up the leg

Temperature higher then 99.9

Feeling flu like symptoms

Nausea or vomiting that is not related to post operative anesthesia effects

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, please call the office at 330-926-3231 and have Dr. Campitelli paged.

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