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Foot Ankle Int. 2003 Jan;24(1):17-21.

Perioperative complications of total ankle arthroplasty.

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Union Memorial Orthopaedics, The Johnston Professional Building, #400, 3333 North Calvert Street, Baltimore, MD 21218, USA.


A retrospective radiographic and chart review was performed for the initial 50 patients who underwent Agility (DePuy, Warsaw IN) total ankle arthroplasty by the senior author (M.S.M.). The review focused on the perioperative complications of nerve or tendon lacerations, intraoperative fractures, acute deep infections, wound complications and component positioning. Major wound complications were defined as those requiring a soft-tissue coverage procedure. Minor wound complications did not require soft tissue coverage and included wound breakdowns, wound edge necrosis, and superficial infections. The immediate mortise and lateral postoperative radiographs were reviewed to measure component positioning. The patients were divided into two groups to compare the initial 25 patients (Group A) with the subsequent 25 patients (Group B). There were no major wound complications in either group. Minor wound complications decreased from six in Group A to two in Group B. There were four lacerations (flexor hallucis longus, posterior tibial tendon, deep peroneal nerve, and superficial peroneal nerve), all occurring in Group A. Five patients sustained intraoperative fractures in Group A, as compared with two fractures in Group B. The number of components varying greater than 4 degrees from neutral as measured by the lateral talar, lateral tibial and mortise tibial component angles decreased by 9% from Group A to Group B. The only tibial component to be placed in more than 4 degrees of valgus occurred in Group A. It seems that a notable learning curve exists in the performance of total ankle arthroplasty as demonstrated by a comparison of the initial 25 patients with the subsequent 25 patients performed by one orthopaedic surgeon. This improvement most likely resulted from the use of enhanced techniques and further training with the prosthesis. This information can be used as a teaching tool to decrease the incidence of complications for surgeons performing their initial arthroplasties with this potentially technically demanding procedure.

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