Arthroscopy of the subtalar joint and arthroscopic subtalar arthrodesis

James P Tasto
Instructional Course Lectures 2006, 55: 555-64
Subtalar arthroscopy has become a valuable adjunct to the tools used in lower extremity surgery. For the past 25 years, ankle arthroscopy has been in vogue for treating a variety of conditions. Subtalar arthroscopy has more treatment limitations and is more technically difficult to perform than ankle arthroscopy because of the anatomic confines and structure of the subtalar joint. Most procedures are performed on the posterior aspect of the subtalar joint. The subtalar joint is composed of three articulations (posterior, middle, and anterior facets) and is surrounded by a variety of intra-articular and extra-articular ligaments, whose anatomy must be fully understood before attempting this procedure. Subtalar arthroscopy may be indicated for diagnostic purposes and for débridement of synovial impingement syndromes in the sinus tarsi. It may be used to examine loose bodies or osteochondral lesions, to address fractures of the lateral process of the talus, and to evaluate subtalar instability to determine appropriate stabilization methods. Arthroscopic subtalar arthrodesis also has gained credibility over the past 10 years as an acceptable surgical procedure. Arthroscopic evaluation of subtalar instability is useful in planning the appropriate stabilization. Subtalar arthroscopy is usually performed with the patient in the lateral decubitus position without traction. Anterior and posterior portals as well as an accessory anterior portal are usually necessary to perform all of the above procedures. Because of the limited confines of the joint, care must be taken to prevent any articular cartilage damage. When performing subtalar arthroscopy in conjunction with ankle arthroscopy, the subtalar arthroscopy should be performed first to avoid excessive extravasation from the ankle arthroscopy, which could obscure entry to the subtalar joint. Complications of subtalar arthroscopy are similar to those encountered in ankle arthroscopy, such as damage to the sural and superficial peroneal nerves.


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