Fibula surgery addresses a fracture or defect in the fibula, a bone in the lower leg, or harvests material for a graft. The specifics of the procedure depend on why the patient needs surgery. It may be performed by a foot and ankle specialist, orthopedic surgeon, or neurosurgeon. Recovery times vary from a few hours to weeks or months with physical therapy to rebuild strength in the involved leg. Patients can always seek a second opinion from another surgeon before the procedure if they want more information about their treatment options and doctor recommendations.
One common reason to need fibula surgery is to repair a fracture. This bone runs along the outside of the lower leg to the ankle, and commonly fractures close to the point of articulation with the ankle. Some fractures can be repaired with casting and rest, but others may require surgical treatment. This can include pinning the bone to stabilize it while it knits as well as checking for damage to ligaments, tendons, and nerves. This damage can be corrected during the fibula surgery.
Another issue that can arise around the fibula is nerve entrapment. This can cause tingling sensations, pain, or lack of control over the foot. A neurosurgeon may recommend fibula surgery to free the trapped nerve and reposition it, making it less likely that the patient will experience a repeat of the problem. Other procedures can address issues like: torn ligaments around the fibula after injuries; abnormalities in the shape of the bone; or damage caused by arthritis and infections.
Some grafts harvest bone from the fibula for implantation elsewhere in the body. In the bone graft surgery, patients are anesthetized while a sample of material is harvested and implanted in a new location, like the jaw. This can be done to rebuild bone after severe injuries, or as part of a corrective surgery to address a congenital abnormality. Surgical teams in these cases may include reconstructive surgeons to create a smooth and even appearance.
The level of anesthesia needed for the surgery can vary. For some, only conscious sedation with a local anesthetic is required. Others require general anesthesia for patient safety, which usually results in a longer recovery. Patients should get active as soon as possible after fibula surgery to reduce the risk of blood clots and start rebuilding strength in the leg. They may be advised to consider physical therapy sessions as part of recovery.