Cheilectomy

Minimally invasive or open surgery for big toe arthritis

A procedure to help treat milder cases of arthritis of the big toe

What is a cheilectomy?

A cheilectomy is surgery to remove a bony lump on the top of the main joint of the big toe. This lump is usually caused by arthritis. A cheilectomy is recommended if you have a bony lump that is painfully pressing on your shoe, or as a treatment for early arthritis of the big toe, when the joint isn’t badly affected. 

Need to know

  • What happens during a cheilectomy? icon plus

    A cut is made on the side of your big toe. The lump is removed and the joint cleaned. The joint is then inspected to see how severe the arthritis is.

    Once confirmed, the area is stitched and dressings applied. This procedure can be performed as open or minimally invasive surgery. It is mostly carried out as a day case but you may need to be cared for in hospital overnight — depending on your level of fitness and whether you have someone to collect and look after you following surgery.

    The operation can be done under general anaesthetic or under a local anaesthetic, which requires an injection above the ankle.

  • How to prepare for surgery icon plus

    Your consultant will tell you how best to prepare for the operation. If you are having general anaesthetic they will let you know how long you should avoid eating and drinking beforehand.
  • After a cheilectomy icon plus

    You should be able to walk again from day one but for the first two weeks you should avoid walking if possible and put all of your weight on the heel. Your consultant will explain what you need to do. They will also let you know when you can get back to your usual routine, including exercise and work.

    You'll be given pain relief to help tackle any discomfort you have in the first couple of days after your procedure. Your stitches will be removed after approximately two weeks. Your consultant or a member of the physiotherapy team will advise you on exercises you can do to help speed up your recovery.

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This content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.
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