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Clin Orthop Relat Res. 2010 Jan;468(1):209-16. doi: 10.1007/s11999-009-0948-x. Epub 2009 Jun 25.

Can porous tantalum be used to achieve ankle and subtalar arthrodesis?: a pilot study.

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Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada.


A structural graft often is needed to fill gaps during reconstructive procedures of the ankle and hindfoot. Autograft, the current gold standard, is limited in availability and configuration and is associated with donor-site morbidity in as much as 48%, whereas the alternative allograft carries risks of disease transmission and collapse. Trabecular metal (tantalum), with a healing rate similar to that of autograft, high stability, and no donor-site morbidity, has been used in surgery of the hip, knee, and spine. However, its use has not been documented in foot and ankle surgery. We retrospectively reviewed nine patients with complex foot and ankle arthrodeses using a tantalum spacer. Minimum followup was 1.9 years (average, 2 years; range, 1.9-2.4 years). Bone ingrowth into the tantalum was analyzed with micro-CT in three of the nine patients. All arthrodeses were fused clinically and radiographically at the 1- and 2 year followups and no complications occurred. The American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society score increased from 32 to 74. The micro-CT showed bony trabeculae growing onto the tantalum. Our data suggest tantalum may be used as a structural graft option for ankle and subtalar arthrodesis. All nine of our patients achieved fusion and had no complications. Using tantalum obviated the need for harvesting of the iliac spine.


Level IV, therapeutic study. See Guidelines for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.

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