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Foot Ankle Int. 2018 Sep;39(9):1106-1112. doi: 10.1177/1071100718774808. Epub 2018 May 16.

Wound and Sural Nerve Complications of the Sinus Tarsi Approach for Calcaneus Fractures.

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1 Department of Orthopedic Trauma, Beijing Ji Shui Tan Hospital, Beijing, China.


Background The purpose of this study was to evaluate the optimal timing and measures of the sinus tarsi approach for calcaneus fractures to avoid iatrogenic injury of the sural nerve and to assess for wound complications.


A case series of 53 patients with calcaneus fractures treated by a single surgeon with the sinus tarsi approach was retrospectively analyzed. On the basis of the delay time from injury to surgery, patients were classified into 4 groups: immediate (0-3 days), early (4-6 days), intermediate (7-14 days), and late (14-18 days). All patients were followed for at least 1 year to observe wound conditions. The rate of wound complications and iatrogenic sural nerve injury was described. Incisions were classified into 2 groups: group A included patients with incisions extending posterior to the lateral malleolus, and group B included patients with incisions confined anterior to the lateral malleolus. The rates of nerve injury were compared between both groups. Forty-three patients with 52 Sanders type II fractures were included.


The average time to surgery from injury was 8.8 days (range, 0-18 days). The overall postoperative rate of wound complications was 5.8% (3 of 52). In the immediate group, deep infections and wound necrosis were found in 2 of 8 fractures (25%). In the early group, 1 of 15 fractures developed superficial infection (6.7%). In the intermediate and late groups, no wound complication was identified. Iatrogenic sural nerve injury was recorded in 5 of 52 patients (9.6%). Group A had 33% (4 of 12) nerve injuries and group B had 2.5% (1 of 40) ( P = .009). In 70% of cases, a main branch of the sural nerve was directly under the incision.


The sinus tarsi approach was generally effective and safe for calcaneus fractures. However, it was relatively risky to perform open reduction and internal fixation by the sinus tarsi approach within 6 days of injury. Because the sural nerve is in the vicinity of the approach, iatrogenic injury should be avoided by the use of careful planning and meticulous manipulations. Level of Evidence Therapeutic; Level III, comparative study.


calcaneus; complication; fracture; sinus tarsi approach; sural nerve


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