Lateral Ankle Ligament Reconstruction

The ankle is a hinge joint that allows movement up and down, and from side to side. The foot and ankle have several ligaments. These are strong band-like structures that keep the bones in your ankle and feet tightly connected. Lateral ankle ligament reconstruction is a surgery to tighten and firm up one or more of the ligaments on the outside of the ankle. It’s most often done as outpatient surgery, so most patients go home the same day.


If you have had repeated ankle sprains or if you have certain foot deformities, your ligaments can start to get weak and loose. This leads to a condition called chronic ankle instability. It can cause chronic pain, repeated ankle sprains, and an ankle that often gives way when you walk or perform activities. If this happens, you might need surgery.

Certain mechanical problems with your foot can make you more likely to develop an unstable ankle, such as:

  • Hindfoot varus
  • Plantar flexion of the first ray
  • Midfoot cavus (high arches)
  • General looseness of your ligaments—for example, from a medical condition like Ehlers-Danlos


Doctors use several methods for lateral ankle ligament reconstruction. The surgery may take 2 or more hours. You can expect the following:

  • You will probably receive general anesthesia to make you sleep through the procedure or regional anesthesia to numb the involved leg.
  • During the surgery, your vital signs, like your heart rate and blood pressure, will be watched carefully.
  • After cleaning the affected area, your doctor will make a cut through the skin and muscle of your ankle.
  • If your surgery is minimally invasive, your doctor will cut a small incision. Then your doctor will put small instruments and a camera through the incision to perform the surgery.
  • Your doctor may remove your ATFL and your CFL ankle ligaments from where they attach on your fibula.
  • Your doctor may make these ligaments shorter.
  • Your doctor may then reattach these ligaments to your fibula by using small new holes drilled into your bone.
  • Your doctor will make other repairs, if necessary.
  • The layers of skin and muscle around your ankle will be surgically closed.
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