Minimally Invasive Foot and Ankle Surgery Introduction

The London Foot and Ankle Centre was the first in the capital to introduce a new form of minimally invasive surgery and it now has the largest experience of minimally invasive foot surgery in the UK.

Using a minimally invasive approach, the surgeon is able to reach the part of the foot that needs correction through tiny incisions, rather than opening up the joint.

The principle is to achieve the same objectives as open surgery, but in doing so, minimise the incisions used and trauma for the patient.

Importantly, the form of Minimally Invasive Surgery (MIS) we have developed is founded on long established approaches to foot surgery. This means the patient’s recovery and outcome is very controlled and predictable. However, we are able to achieve this outcome while reducing impact on bone structure and soft tissues.

“Having had an open cheilectomy 15 years ago on one toe and a minimally invasive cheilectomy recently on the other toe, I wish I could have had minimally invasive surgery on both toes. The results are marvellous.”

Largest UK experience of minimally invasive foot surgery

LFAC consultant David Redfern worked with surgeons in France to train in MIS techniques before introducing and developing the approach in the UK in 2009. He has now completed more than a thousand cases.

Mr Redfern also regularly trains and lectures nationally and internationally, having the largest UK experience in MIS. All LFAC surgeons are trained in MIS techniques and are playing key roles in introducing the approach throughout the UK and in auditing results.

“Because we use well-established techniques, there is stability and predictability in terms of the outcome. This is combined with the clear benefits of achieving this end in a minimally invasive way, thereby reducing trauma to the joint.”

Mr David Redfern, Consultant orthopaedic surgeon, London Foot and Ankle Centre

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How long will it take to recover?

Recovery after MIS for bunions

You will need to wear a special post-operative protective shoe for 4–6 weeks after minimally invasive surgery – exactly the same as people who have had open forefoot surgery in order to allow for bone healing. The hundreds of procedures we have undertaken show:

  • There is less trauma to the soft tissues attached to the joints. This means there is less bruising and swelling and by four to six weeks, your foot is likely to look close to normal with less joint stiffness than open techniques. There will still be some mild swelling however for a few months whilst the bone healing matures.
  • Patients are mobile from day one and generally return to most activities from six weeks, which also helps overall outcome.
  • The soft tissues attached to the bones release chemicals after surgery that promotes healing. The less damage to the soft tissues, the more effective this healing process will be.
  • It is important to note that you will still need to wear a special post-operative shoe for six weeks and will not be able to drive during this period.

Read more about Minimally Invasive Bunion Surgery

Recovery after MIS for lesser toe correction

After minimally invasive surgery to correct lesser toe deformity you will need to wear a special post-operative protective shoe for 1–5 weeks depending on the type of correction performed. The hundreds of procedures we have undertaken show:

  • There is less trauma to the soft tissues and surrounding joints.
  • Minimally invasive techniques mean we can usually avoid using temporary wires in the post-operative period as are usually required for open techniques. There is less stiffness and the toes look more natural than with open techniques that often rely on fusing joints in the toes to gain correction.
  • Patients are mobile from day one and generally return to most activities from one to four weeks (depending on the correction required), which also helps overall outcome.

Recovery after MIS for arthritis in the big toe (cheillectomy)

You will need to wear a special post-operative protective shoe for 4–7 days after minimally invasive cheilectomy – much less than people who have had open cheilectomy surgery. Our experience of hundreds of these procedures undertaken shows:

  • There is less trauma to the soft tissues attached to the joints. This means there is less bruising and swelling and by seven days, your foot is likely to look close to normal with less pain and joint stiffness than with open techniques.
  • Patients are mobile from day one and generally return to most activities from two weeks post surgery, which also helps overall outcome.
  • Patients may be able to return to driving after one to two weeks.
  • However, it is important to note that this procedure is not so effective in more advanced arthritis in which other treatments such as fusion may be more appropriate.

Recovery after minimally invasive heel shift surgery

This surgery is often used by LFAC surgeons as part of a larger foot correction such as flatfoot correction surgery. The keyhole heel shift technique dramatically reduces the overall trauma to the patient and avoids what can be a large heel incision used for the open equivalent. Our large experience of this procedure shows:

  • There is less trauma to the soft tissues and shorter operative time. This means there is less bruising, swelling and pain than with equivalent open techniques.

As the heel shift usually forms a part of a larger corrective operation, patients’ mobility generally depends on these other surgical procedures performed, but usually requires non-weight bearing on crutches for the first four to six weeks.

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