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Foot Ankle Int. 2011 Oct;32(10):940-7.

Medium- to long-term outcome of ankle arthrodesis.



Despite improvement in outcome after ankle arthroplasty, fusion of the ankle joint is still considered the gold standard. A matter of concern is deterioration of clinical outcome as a result of loss of motion and advancing degeneration of adjacent joints. We performed a long-term study to address these topics.


Between 1990 and 2005 a total of 121 ankle arthrodeses were performed at our institute. Thirty-five cases were excluded because of simultaneous subtalar arthrodesis. Ten had died and ten were lost to followup. Six had a bilateral ankle arthrodeses, leaving 60 patients (66 ankles) eligible for followup. There were 40 males and 26 females with a mean age at surgery of 47 years. In 60 ankles, fusion was obtained using a two-incision, three-screw technique. All patients were assessed using validated questionnaires and clinical rating systems: Short Form 36 (SF-36), American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society (AOFAS) Ankle and Hindfoot scale, Foot and Ankle Ability Measure (FAAM) and a subjective satisfaction rating. Radiological progression of osteoarthritis of the adjacent joints was assessed.


Fusion was achieved in 91% after primary surgery. In six patients rearthrodesis was needed to obtain fusion. The mean SF-36 score was 63 (SD, 22) for the physical component scale and 81 (SD, 15) for the mental component scale. The mean FAAM score was 69 (SD, 17) and the mean AOFAS Ankle Hindfoot score was 67 (SD, 12). Ninety-one percent were satisfied with their clinical result. Infection occurred once. No other serious adverse events were encountered. In all contiguous joints significant progression of arthritis was appreciated.


Ankle arthrodesis using a two-incision, three-screw technique was a reliable and safe technique for the treatment of end-stage osteoarthritis of the ankle. It resulted in a good functional outcome at a mean followup of 9 years. Progressive osteoarthritis of the contiguous joints was clearly appreciated but the functional and clinical importance of these findings remains unclear.

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