Arthrodesis is also known as syndesis or artificial ankylosis. It is also commonly referred to as joint fusion. It is a method of surgical joint ossification used to fuse the bones in a joint when other treatments do not yield positive results.
What is Arthrodesis Used For?
Arthrodesis us used to treat joint fractures, arthritis and other conditions that affect the mobility of a joint. If pain cannot be managed through other treatments, arthrodesis may be a viable solution. However, doctors often consider it to be a last resort treatment to be applied only after other options have been exhausted. The best candidates for joint fusion are those who still have strong bones on either side of the joint and strong immune systems to aid in healing.
Joint Replacement vs Arthrodesis
The arthrodesis procedure fuses the bones of the joint and prevents movement in that joint. Joint replacement surgery substitutes an artificial joint for the damaged one. These replacement joints will have the same range of motion of natural joints, but artificial joints can also wear out quickly. Additional surgeries may be required in the future. For this reason, joint fusion is often a better and more permanent solution for joint pain.
What is the Arthrodesis Process Like?
The procedure is an outpatient surgery. The surgeon will make incisions around the joint and remove all cartilage in the joint so that the bones are touching directly. The joint will then be held in place with metal hardware. This allows the bones to heal and fuse together to create an immovable joint.
Because joint fusion eliminates motion in the joint, the procedure is best for treating areas of the body that can still be used without a full range of motion. For example, ankle arthrodesis is more common than joint fusion in the knee or hip.