Functional outcome of displaced intra-articular calcaneal fractures: a comparison between open reduction/internal fixation and a minimally invasive approach featured an anatomical plate and compression bolts

Zhanpo Wu, Yanling Su, Wei Chen, Qi Zhang, Yueju Liu, Ming Li, Haili Wang, Yingze Zhang
Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery 2012, 73 (3): 743-51

BACKGROUND: The purpose of this study is to assess the clinical results of a minimally invasive treatment featured the concept of internal compression, including an anatomic plate and multiple compression bolts compared with open reduction and internal fixation for displaced intra-articular calcaneal fractures (DIACFs).

METHODS: We retrospectively analyzed 329 patients (383 feet) who were identified from trauma inpatient database in our hospital for DIACFs from January 2004 to December 2009. Of them, 148 patients (170 feet) were treated with open reduction and internal fixation (OR group), which involved using a traditional L-shaped extended lateral approach, and fractures were fixed by plate and screws from January 2004 to December 2006; 181 patients (213 feet) were treated with a minimally invasive approach featured the concept of calcaneal internal compression (CIC group), which was achieved by an anatomic plate and multiple compression bolts through a small lateral incision from January 2007 to December 2009. Postoperative complications were recorded. During follow-up, pain and functional outcome were evaluated with the American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society (AOFAS) scores and compared between the two groups. Subsequent subtalar arthrodesis and early implant removal were performed when indicated. Routine hardware removal was scheduled for all patients at 1-year follow-up.

RESULTS: There were no significant differences in sex, age, and fracture classification (Sanders classification) between the two groups. Wound healing complications were 4 of 213 (1.88%) in CIC group and 20 of 170 (11.76%) in OR group. Subtalar arthrodesis had to be performed in one case in OR group. Four cases in CIC group and four cases in OR group had the hardware removed earlier due to complications. The average time after surgery to start weight-bearing exercise is 5.64 weeks in CIC group and 9.38 weeks in OR group (p < 0.001). The mean AOFAS score is higher in CIC group than in OR group, although the difference is not statistically significant (87.53 vs. 84.95; p = 0.191). The overall results according to the AOFAS scoring system were good or excellent in 185 of 213 (86.85%) in CIC group and 144 of 170 (84.71%) in OR group. The subjective portion of the AOFAS survey answered by patients showed statistically significant difference in activity limitation and walking surface score (7.31 vs. 7.02 and 3.72 vs. 3.42; p < 0.05) but not in pain and walking distance between the two groups (32.72 vs. 32.29 and 4.37 vs. 4.42; p > 0.05).

CONCLUSION: The study results suggest that this minimally invasive approach featured the concept of the calcaneal internal compression can achieve functional outcome as good as, if not better than the open techniques. It is proved to be an effective alternative treatment for DIACFs.

LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Therapeutic study, level IV.

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