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Iowa Orthop J. 2016;36:75-8.

Primary Retrograde Tibiotalocalcaneal Nailing For Fragility Ankle Fractures.

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Orthopaedic Trauma and Reconstructive Surgery Department of Orthopedic Surgery Grant Medical Center, Columbus, OH.



Ankle fragility fractures are difficult to treat due to poor bone quality and soft tissues as well as the near ubiquitous presence of comorbidities including diabetes mellitus and peripheral neuropathy. Conventional open reduction and internal fixation in this population has been shown to lead to a significant rate of complications. Given the high rate of complications with contemporary fixation methods, the present study aims to critically evaluate the use of acute hindfoot nailing as a percutaneous fixation technique for high-risk ankle fragility fractures.


In this study, we retrospectively evaluated 31 patients treated with primary retrograde tibiotalocalcaneal nail without joint preparation for a mean of 13.6 months postoperatively from an urban Level I trauma center during the years 2006-2012.


Overall, there were two superficial infections (6.5%) and three deep infections (9.7%) in the series. There were 28 (90.3%) patients that went on to radiographic union at a mean of 22.2 weeks with maintenance of foot and ankle alignment. There were three cases of asymptomatic screw breakage observed at a mean of 18.3 months postoperatively, which were all treated conservatively..


This study shows that retrograde hindfoot nailing is an acceptable treatment option for treatment of ankle fragility fractures. Hindfoot nailing allows early weightbearing, limited soft tissue injury, and a relatively low rate of complications, all of which are advantages to conventional open reduction internal fixation techniques. Given these findings, larger prospective randomized trials comparing this treatment with conventional open reduction internal fixation techniques are warranted.

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