[Tibiotalocalcaneal arthrodesis using a distally introduced femur nail (DFN)]

René Grass
Operative Orthopädie und Traumatologie 2005, 17 (4-5): 426-41

OBJECTIVE: Simultaneous arthrodesis of ankle and subtalar joints and, at the same sitting, correction of axial malalignment of hindfoot, treatment of bony defects and of sequelae of circulatory disturbances after multiple previous interventions. Internal stabilization with a short distal femur nail. Restitution of a pain-free weight bearing.

INDICATIONS: Failure of arthrodesis of ankle and subtalar joint causing pain in patients with severely altered bone structures particularly at the level of the talar dome. Malalignment of hind- and/or forefoot after previous arthrodesis of ankle and subtalar joint. Failure of conservative therapy in both above-enumerated conditions.

CONTRAINDICATIONS: Poor skin or soft-tissue conditions. Reflex sympathetic dystrophy. Acute osteitis/osteomyelitis.

SURGICAL TECHNIQUE: Posterolateral approach. Resection of the articular cartilage and the areas of sclerosis of the ankle and of the posterior facet of the subtalar joint. Interposition of bone grafts harvested from the iliac crest. Correction of malalignment of hind- and forefoot. Locked nailing with a short distal femur nail.

POSTOPERATIVE MANAGEMENT: Fitting of a flexible custom-made arthrodesis boot; weight bearing in boot not exceeding half of body weight until the 8th week. Gait training. After 12 weeks wearing of normal shoes. Radiographs after 6 and 12 weeks.

RESULTS: Between February 1, 2002 and September 1, 2003 this technique was performed on 18 feet in 17 patients (three women, 14 men, average age 53 years [38.9-73.7 years]). Average duration of follow-up: 1.2 years (0.6-2.1 years). The goal of surgery was reached in all patients. Subjective assessment: 14 times good, three times satisfactory. Four complications: one loss of nail purchase, one dislocation of locking screw, one breakage of locking bolt, one prolonged bone healing.

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