[The transfibular approach for ankle arthrodesis]

Gerhard Flückiger, Martin Weber
Operative Orthopädie und Traumatologie 2005, 17 (4-5): 361-79

OBJECTIVE: Bony fusion between tibia and talus in neutral position of foot. Return to a pain-free function of the lower limb.

INDICATIONS: Extensive loss of articular cartilage accompanied by a painful and considerably limited motion with or without malalignment. Partial avascular necrosis of talar dome or distal tibial epiphysis. Neuroarthropathy (Charcot joint) with progressive malalignment of ankle. Revision surgery after failed total ankle arthroplasty.

CONTRAINDICATIONS: Acute purulent joint infection. Total avascular necrosis of talus.

SURGICAL TECHNIQUE: Posterolateral approach to the distal fibula taking care to preserve the periosteal vessels. Fibular osteotomy from proximal lateral to distal medial. Division of the anterior tibiofibular, anterior fibulotibial, and fibulocalcaneal ligaments. Division of posterior tibiofibular ligament. Transverse planar resection of tibial and talar articular surfaces. Freshening of the medial malleolus. Resection of the tip of medial malleolus through a medial incision. Positioning of talus perpendicular to the tibia, paying attention to the valgus of the hindfoot and external rotation. Temporary fixation with Kirschner wires. Radiographic control in two planes followed by fixation with two or three lag screws. Removal of the medial fibular cortex, freshening of the lateral gutter, and fixation of the distal fibular fragments to tibia and talus with cortical screws.

RESULTS: 20 arthrodeses in 19 patients were followed up for an average of 39 months (12-69 months). All arthrodeses were fused. In one patient a fibular pseudarthrosis was encountered. All arthrodeses healed in a correct position but one that consolidated with a pes equinus of 3 degrees . The average AOFAS (American Orthopedic Foot and Ankle Society) hindfoot score reached 78.5 points (40-86 points). A marked reduction of symptoms and satisfactory function were reported postoperatively by all patients. All would be willing to undergo surgery again.

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