Minimally Invasive Foot and Ankle Surgery

Updated 8/3/2022
Minimally Invasive Foot and Ankle Surgery

What is minimally invasive surgery?

Minimally invasive surgery (MIS) is a technique used by foot and ankle surgeons to correct foot and ankle conditions and deformities with very small incisions. This is in contrast to traditional open surgeries, where surgeons make one large incision in order to see the surgical area and perform the procedure. While MIS is not a new phenomenon, it has advanced significantly over recent years.


Not all patients will benefit from minimally invasive surgical techniques, and each surgery should be considered case-by-case to pick the best treatment option for each patient. That said, minimally invasive techniques can result in excellent outcomes, smaller incisions, less pain, and a shorter recovery time. 

Advancements in minimally invasive foot and ankle surgery

MIS foot and ankle surgery became popular in the mid-1980s and has continued growing as surgeons marketed the promise of simpler procedures and faster recovery. However, there were problems associated with initial MIS foot and ankle surgeries that eventually made them not popular or often used. The main issue was that the surgeries were slightly free-hand in nature and without fixation of visualization. In other words, the surgeries were done “blind,” and the bones were not held in the desired positions. As you can imagine, this resulted in poor outcomes.


Over time, fixation options improved, and the use of x-ray during surgery (referred to as C-Arm visualization) was introduced. These innovations revolutionized minimally invasive foot and ankle surgeries, allowing for MIS to be reconsidered.


The goal of surgery is a reduction in pain and swelling, easy recovery, and a full return to normal activity. In many cases, minimally invasive foot surgery is a better option for these goals. 


Benefits of minimally invasive surgery

Today’s minimally invasive surgery is considered advantageous and a better option to open procedures as it:

  • reduces the size of the incisions to a few millimeters
  • reduces damage to the skin and soft tissue envelope.
  • utilizes special tools under real-time x-ray so the surgeon can accurately monitor the progress of the procedure and the fixation of screws and/or pins.
  • allows for very precise shaving or cutting of the bone.
  • allow early weight bearing and quicker recovery.
  • reduces scarring.
  • reduces the need for physical therapy post-surgery


The types of minimally invasive surgery 

Types of MIS foot and ankle surgeries currently being done and popularized over the past ten years include:

  • bunion (hallux valgus) surgery
  • hammertoe surgery
  • big toe arthritis surgery (hallux limitus/hallux rigidus)
  • forefoot and ball of foot pain surgery
  • spur removal surgery from the foot or ankle
  • ankle ligament repair surgery
  • ankle cartilage repair surgery
  • Achilles repair surgery
  • plantar fascia surgery
  • bone spur surgery
  • heel spur surgery


The list continues to grow and flourish with advancements every day.


We are leaders in minimally invasive surgery 

You don't have to live with foot pain. There is so much innovation in podiatric medicine today, and we are at the forefront. With decades of combined experience and the highest success rates in the nation, we have effectively treated over 200,000 patients. Foot and ankle pain is not normal. And ignoring it will likely cause your condition to worsen and become harder to treat. 


University Foot and Ankle Institute is well known as one of the most technologically advanced foot and ankle practices in the nation. While other practices say they know about "the latest and greatest," UFAI has been researching, running clinical trials, and performing these techniques for decades. Our surgeons pride themselves on being a leading organization in the research and implementation of minimally invasive surgery options.

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