[Distal shortening osteotomy of the metatarsals using the Weil technique: surgical treatment of metatarsalgia and dislocation of the metatarsophalangeal joint]

A Podskubka, V Stĕdrý, M Kafunĕk
Acta Chirurgiae Orthopaedicae et Traumatologiae Cechoslovaca 2002, 69 (2): 79-84

PURPOSE: Weil technique of the distal shortening osteotomy of metatarsal is a relatively new method of the surgical treatment of metatarsalgia and dislocation of metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joints. A retrospective study evaluates the first experience in Weil osteotomy at the authors' department.

MATERIAL: Between May 1999 and the end of 2000 twelve patients (14 feet) were operated on in which the Weil technique of the osteotomy was performed on 28 metatarsals. Indication for the surgery was chronic metatarsalgia with dislocation of the MTP joint, with excessive length of one or more lesser metatarsals, with insufficiency of the first ray after the surgery of hallux valgus and metatarsalgia after the resection of the head of II metatarsal. All patients were women, average age of 57 years (range, 50-68 years) at the time of operation. The average follow-up is 9 months (range, 6-24 months). Dislocated prior to operation were 9 MTP joints, in 2 cases a deformity of 2nd digit of the digitus supraductus type was operated on.

METHODS: The patients evaluated subjectively the functional and cosmetic outcomes of the surgery. Clinical evaluation related to recurrence or transfer of difficulties to the head of the neighbouring metatarsal, range of motion of the MTP joint, function and grip of the digit. Radiograph was used for the evaluation of the metatarsal index, post-operative shortening of II metatarsal, reduction of dislocation in the MTP joint and healing of osteotomy.

RESULTS: Satisfied with the functionla and cosmetic results of the operation were 83% patients (10 of 12). Recurrence of metatarsalgia was not found in any patient, transfermetatarsalgia in one patient. Reduction of the range of motion in the MTP joint (plantar flexion) by more than 50% was recorded in 43% operated on metatarsals and in all metatarsals after the reduction of the dislocation. Acceptable function and strength of the digit evaluated by the ability to press by the digit a sheet of paper against the floor was preserved in most of the operated on metatarsals--86% (24 of 28). Average shortening of II metatarsal was 5.6 mm. All dislocated MTP joints were reduced postoperatively. Dislocation recurred in 2 cases. Avascular necrosis of the head of II metatarsal after the reduction of the dislocation was encountered in one case.

DISCUSSION: The small number of recurrences and transfermetatarsalgia proves that Weil osteotomy allowing a controlled shortening of metatarsal with a fixation is a reliable method in the solution of metatarsalgia. The operation directly on the joint allows reduction of the dislocation of the MTP joint. Shortening of metatarsal facilitates reduction and reduces axial pressure in the MTP joint. Recurrence of dislocation is reported between 15% and 22%. After a more difficult reduction and danger of redislocation some authors recommend a temporary transfixation of the MTP joint by K-wire. The disadvantage of the operation is a frequent temporary limitation of the range of motion in the MTP joint which is caused by the opening of the articular capsule and its subsequent contraction. No author reports any problems with the healing of the osteotomy. The results in our group of patients are comparable with the results published by other authors.

CONCLUSION: Weil osteotomy allows a planned controlled shortening of metatarsal with a stable fixation. Osteotomy heals well. Osteotomy is intraarticular which on one side provides the possibility to correct dislocation in the MTP joint, however, on the other hand it poses a risk of the limitation of the range of motion of this joint. The main contribution the authors see in the new possibility of surgical treatment of more severe matatarsalgia and deformities of the forefoot with the preservation of joints.

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