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Foot Ankle Int. 2013 Jan;34(1):91-8. doi: 10.1177/1071100712460364.

Treatment of displaced intra-articular calcaneal fractures with combined transarticular external fixation and minimal internal fixation.

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  • 1Division of Emergency and Trauma Surgery, Department of Surgery, Kaohsiung Chang Gung Memorial Hospital and Chang Gung University College of Medicine, Kaohsiung, Taiwan.



The aim of this study was to evaluate clinical outcomes after surgery for displaced intra-articular fractures using an external fixator and minimal internal fixation.


In this retrospective observational study, a total of 39 patients (32 [82%] men and 7 [18%] women) with 48 displaced intra-articular calcaneal fractures were included. An extended lateral approach was used to stabilize fractures using multiple sagittal plane screws, axial percutaneous threaded Kirschner wires for the frontal fracture plane, and an external fixator for reduction assistance and maintenance. The following variables were assessed: preoperative and postoperative Böhler's angle; calcaneal length, height, and width; postoperative American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society (AOFAS) scores; and complications. Mean duration of follow-up was 74 ± 26 months.


The mean time from surgery to external fixator removal was 12 ± 1 weeks. The mean preoperative Böhler's angle (-3 ± 21 degrees), calcaneal length (7.9 ± 0.6 cm), and calcaneal height (3.6 ± 0.5 cm) were significantly increased (P < .05) at final follow-up (28.3 ± 6.5, 8.3 ± 0.6, and 4.5 ± 0.5, respectively), whereas the mean preoperative calcaneal width (4.2 ± 0.5) was significantly decreased from the final follow-up mean (3.8 ± 0.5). There were no significant differences between any of the normal and postoperative measures. The mean AOFAS score was 82 ± 12. Complications included superficial pin tract infection (n = 7, 15%), superficial wound edge necrosis (n = 4, 8%), and deep infection (n = 2, 4%).


Our findings suggest that use of an external fixator with minimal internal fixation is an effective option for treating displaced intra-articular calcaneal fractures.


Level IV, retrospective case series.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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