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The Unloading Effect of Supramalleolar Versus Sliding Calcaneal Osteotomy for Treatment of Osteochondral Lesions of the Medial Talus: A Biomechanical Study.

BACKGROUND: In patients with osteochondral lesion, defects of the medial talus, or failed cartilage surgery, a periarticular osteotomy can unload the medial compartment.

PURPOSE: To compare the effects of supramalleolar osteotomy (SMOT) versus sliding calcaneal osteotomy (SCO) for pressure redistribution and unloading of the medial ankle joint in normal, varus-aligned, and valgus-aligned distal tibiae.

STUDY DESIGN: Controlled laboratory study.

METHODS: Included were 8 cadaveric lower legs with verified neutral ankle alignment (lateral distal tibial angle [LDTA] = 0°) and hindfoot valgus within normal range (0°-10°). SMOT was performed to modify LDTA between 5° valgus, neutral, and 5° varus. In addition, a 10-mm lateral SCO was performed and tested in each position in random order. Axial loading (700 N) of the tibia was applied with the foot in neutral alignment in a customized testing frame. Pressure distribution in the ankle joint and subtalar joint, center of force, and contact area were recorded using high-resolution Tekscan pressure sensors.

RESULTS: At neutral tibial alignment, SCO unloaded the medial joint by a mean of 10% ± 10% or 66 ± 51 N ( P = .04) compared with 6% ± 12% or 55 ± 72 N with SMOT to 5° valgus ( P = .12). The achieved deload was not significantly different (ns) between techniques. In ankles with 5° varus alignment at baseline, SMOT to correct LDTA to neutral insufficiently addressed pressure redistribution and increased medial load by 6% ± 9% or 34 ± 33 N (ns). LDTA correction to 5° valgus (10° SMOT) unloaded the medial joint by 0.4% ± 14% or 20 ± 75 N (ns) compared with 9% ± 11% or 36 ± 45 N with SCO (ns). SCO was significantly superior to 5° SMOT ( P = .017) but not 10° SMOT. The subtalar joint was affected by both SCO and SMOT, where SCO unloaded but SMOT loaded the medial side.

CONCLUSION: SCO reliably unloaded the medial compartment of the ankle joint for a neutral tibial axis. Changes in the LDTA by SMOT did not positively affect load distribution, especially in varus alignment. The subtalar joint was affected by SCO and SMOT in opposite ways, which should be considered in the treatment algorithm.

CLINICAL RELEVANCE: SCO may be considered a reliable option for beneficial load-shifting in ankles with neutral alignment or 5° varus malalignment.

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