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Arch Orthop Trauma Surg. 2008 Mar;128(3):261-5. Epub 2007 Jun 19.

Arthrodesis for ankle osteoarthritis after harvesting of free vascularized fibular bone: a case report.

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  • 1Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, Kaohsiung Hsien, Taiwan.



Although free vascularized fibular bone grafting is a good method for the reconstruction of large bone defects, it might cause morbidity of the donor leg. Progression of ankle osteoarthritis, valgus deformity and instability of the donor leg subsequently leading to arthrodesis has rarely been reported.


A 53-year-old man suffered from a left tibial comminuted and Gustilo type IIIb open fracture. A folded free vascularized osteoseptocutaneous flap was harvested from the right fibula and transferred to the left tibial bone defect. After the reconstructive surgery, the patient obtained a solid union of the left tibial shaft uneventfully. Ten years later, he suffered intermittent pain on his right ankle. Plain radiographs revealed progressive tibiotalar osteoarthritis. Right ankle arthrodesis with crossed cannulated screws fixation and osteosynthesis of the fibula to the tibia and talus were performed. However, this procedure failed due to a deep infection and osteomyelitis. A revision of the failed ankle fusion was performed by using a vascularized iliac bone flap to strut the anterolateral aspect of the tibiotalar bone defect. A ventral plate fixation and supplementary onlay bone grafting were applied across the anterior aspect of the tibiotalar joint. At the 2-year follow-up, the patient had no pain and resumed his regular daily activities.


Harvesting of the fibula may cause longterm ankle osteoarthritis that requires ankle arthrodesis. In revision arthrodesis a ventral plate fixation and vascularized iliac bone flap may be the treatment of choice, neutralizing the large moment due to the long lever arms.

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