[Revision of failed ankle arthrodeses]

Christoph Eingartner, Kuno Weise
Operative Orthopädie und Traumatologie 2005, 17 (4-5): 481-501

OBJECTIVE: Ankle arthrodesis with the foot at 90 degrees with minimal as possible leg shortening. Regain of a pain-free use of the limb.

INDICATIONS: Failure of arthrodesis, septic or aseptic in origin, accompanied by pain interfering with weight bearing.

CONTRAINDICATIONS: General surgical or anesthesiologic risks. Acute reflex sympathetic dystrophy. Significant arterial circulatory disturbances or extensive neurologic deficits. Extensive bone or soft-tissue defects after previous surgeries.

SURGICAL TECHNIQUE: Approach using existing scars. Resection of nonunion making allowance for the planned position of arthrodesis. Removal of all necrotic bony and soft tissue. Posterior translation of talus by 1 cm. Autogenous bone grafting of major defects. Temporary fixation with a Kirschner wire with the foot at 90 degrees in the sagittal plane, in 0 degrees in the frontal plane, and 10-20 degrees of external rotation. Application of an external fixator, removal of Kirschner wire and compression of resection surfaces. If needed, apposition of cancellous bone harvested from iliac crest. Suction drain. Wound closure.

RESULTS: Revision of arthrodesis in 13 men and three women (average age 48 years [27-76 years]). Average follow-up 10.8 months (3-26 months). In spite of problematic preoperative conditions (local infection eight times, malposition five times) a bony consolidation occurred in 15 of 16 patients, 14 times in a perfect position. Average leg shortening 2.8 cm (1-8.5 cm). Satisfactory soft-tissue healing in twelve patients. Superficial ulceration in two patients, fistula in one. Successful repeat revision of arthrodesis in one patient on account of persisting nonunion and infection.

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