Ankle Arthrodiastasis, or ankle distraction arthroplasty, is the application of a circular ring external fixator across the ankle joint for 6-8 weeks, coupled with physical therapy.
In so doing, the joint is both offloaded (the talus from the distal tibia) and stretched. This creates a biomechanical environment that helps stimulate cartilage regeneration.
This procedure provides the patient the ability to bear weight while distracting the joint. It also allows physicial therapy to begin almost immediately.
This is still a relatively new procedure in the US, with preliminary research having been published in Europe. Ankle arthrodiastasis is indicated for patients with moderate arthritis and mobility of the joint. Distraction of the ankle is already done to correct ankle contractures. The procedure is used more often as an adjunctive to ankle arthroscopy when treating patients for arthrosis with debridement and microfracture.
Although not a common procedure and still in its early stages, preliminary results are good. The majority of patients are able to avoid the need for ankle fusion, which allows them much greater mobility and motion. The European orthopedic literature provides surgical results that prove this procedure increases the range of motion and decreases pain while ambulating.
This is based on the research that has been published to date, and does not take into account new or unpublished research.