Post-operative instructions following your fusion surgery
If you have concerns during business hours, please contact South East Orthopaedic Surgery on 0484 739 550 or via email firstname.lastname@example.org Please note voice mail messages and emails will be replied to by the next business day. If you have concerns outside of business hours, please contact the switchboard at Frankston Private Hospital on (03) 8796 1300. If you have having a limb or life threatening emergency, please dial 000 or present to the Frankston Public Hospital Emergency department.
For any surgery wound management is important. Due to the proximity of the foot and ankle to the heart and great vessels, and potential issues with blood supply, wound management following foot and ankle surgery is critical, even if your procedure was performed via a minimally invasive technique. Please keep your dressings and cast intact until review by your GP or surgeon, unless directed otherwise. You will need to keep the wounds dry by wrapping a plastic garbage or kitchen bag sealed with tape and an elastic bag during showers or bath. If you have excessive wound ooze through the dressings please contact the surgery to arrange the dressings to be changed. If you are concerned about the amount of wound ooze please contact the surgery as above, or present to Frankston Public Hospital Emergency department. If possible, please don’t commence antibiotics without discussing the situation with your surgeon.
Some swelling following your surgery is normal and may persist for months afterwards. Keep you foot elevated as much as possible, even if you are allowed to weight bear. We suggest icing the area (if practicable) for 20 minutes five times a day for the first week to help reduce inflammation.
You need to be non weight bearing while the wound heals. This is mean you need crutches, a frame or wheelchair (or a combination of all three) for mobility in this period.
You will see your surgeon two weeks following surgery for removal of sutures. After this stage, you will be fitted with a CAM boot and can commence partial weight bearing, approximately 25% of your body weight, in the boot. You can come out of the boot for showers but need to wear it for sleep.
If you already have a boot please bring it with you so we can check it is the right size and shape.
A good way to assess partial weight bearing is to put your operated ankle on some scales, and (with crutches) and stand on the scales until you see 25% of your body weight. This is what it should feel like as you walk.
After six weeks, you can commence weight bearing in the boot.
Unless instructed, you are unable to drive a minimum of six weeks following surgery.
Your post-operative appointment would have been made for you at the time of your surgery - please contact the practice if you are unsure. If you have travelled a significant distance and would prefer to see your GP for removal of sutures, this can be arranged. You will likely need to pay a consultation fee to your GP for this service (the cost of your post-operative appointment in our consultation rooms is included in your surgical fee).
You will also see your surgeon ten weeks after the surgery and will need an x-ray of your ankle prior to this consultation to confirm it is fused. An x-ray request form will be emailed or sent to you after your two-week post-operative appointment.
The cost of all review appointments are included in your surgical fee.
Smoking and alcohol consumption following surgery
It is important you smoke as little as possible (ideally not at all) to minimise wound problems and reduce risk of post-operative complications, including infection, following your surgery.
It is strongly recommended you avoid alcoholic beverages for six weeks following your surgery. Alcohol is a vasodilator which causes fluid to leak out of your blood vessels, particularly around areas of trauma such as your recent surgery. Alcohol consumption following surgery results in increased swelling, redness, pain and wound complications. People who drink alcohol following surgery also require stronger painkillers than those who are able to abstain or limit their alcohol intake.
It is normal to have some numbness around the toes following surgery. This is due to a combination of swelling, local anaesthetic and possibly stretching of the nerves around your foot or ankle. Usually the numbness resolves after a few weeks, but rarely can be permanent.
Some post-operative pain is normal following surgery. Your surgeon and anaesthetist work together to make sure you are as comfortable as possible on the ward and then when you are discharged home. If you have severe, relenting or escalating pain that is not relieved by pain-killers please contact your surgeon, GP or emergency department.
It is important you contact your surgeon, GP or emergency department if you have any of the following symptoms:
severe unrelenting pain not relieved by analgesia, rest, ice, compression or elevation
severe swelling of the foot or calf that does not resolve with elevation
redness around the wound or redness of the skin visible around the cast
discharge from the wound or pin sites
fevers, night sweats or unexplained shaking or feeling cold
shortness of breath or chest pain
We wish you well with your recovery post-operatively and look forward to seeing you at your two-week post-operative appointment.
Please note - this information is a non-specific overview prepared by your surgical team and is not a replacement for specific medical advice. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact your surgeon.