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Foot Ankle. 1986 Aug;7(1):49-61.

External fixation arthrodesis of the ankle joint following trauma.


Arthrodesis is currently the treatment of choice for symptomatic degenerative arthropathy of the ankle. Thirty-seven patients underwent arthrodesis for post-traumatic disorders using either a Hoffmann external fixator or a Calandruccio frame. There was degenerative joint disease in 19 (51%), septic arthritis in 11 (30%), severe comminution in five (14%), and uncontrollable equinus in two (5%). The patients were divided into two groups. Twenty-six (70%) were considered to have sustained high energy open or comminuted injuries and 11 (30%), low energy injuries. Twenty-nine (78%) achieved a radiologic fusion following one operation. Four eventually united with further surgery for a final arthrodesis rate of 89%. In the high energy group 18 of 26 (69%) achieved primary fusion. Four united with additional surgery for a final arthrodesis rate of 85%. Two of these required subsequent amputations and two others, a triple arthrodesis which also failed to control chronic pain. Thus, a total of 18 of the 26 patients (69%) achieved a successful result. Also included in the high energy group were three patients with uncontrolled sepsis who underwent amputation before union occurred and one with a painful non-union. All 11 of the patients (100%) who originally sustained low energy injuries achieved a successful arthrodesis. The most common complication was in pin tract infection requiring incision, drainage, and oral antibiotics in 16 patients (43%). None of these progressed to chronic osteomyelitis.

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