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Bone Joint J. 2019 Oct;101-B(10):1256-1262. doi: 10.1302/0301-620X.101B10.BJJ-2019-0207.R1.

Postoperative weightbearing following ankle arthrodesis: a systematic review.

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Brighton and Sussex Medical School, University of Sussex, Brighton, UK.
Department of Trauma and Orthopaedics, Royal Sussex County Hospital, Brighton, UK.



Postoperative rehabilitation regimens following ankle arthrodesis vary considerably. A systematic review was conducted to determine the evidence for weightbearing recommendations following ankle arthrodesis, and to compare outcomes between different regimens.


MEDLINE, Web of Science, Embase, and Scopus databases were searched for studies reporting outcomes following ankle arthrodesis, in which standardized postoperative rehabilitation regimens were employed. Eligible studies were grouped according to duration of postoperative nonweightbearing: zero to one weeks (group A), two to three weeks (group B), four to five weeks (group C), or six weeks or more (group D). Outcome data were pooled and compared between groups. Outcomes analyzed included union rates, time to union, clinical scores, and complication rates.


A total of 60 studies (2426 ankles) were included. Mean union rates for groups A to D were 93.2%, 95.5%, 93.0%, and 93.0%, respectively. Mean time to union was 10.4 weeks, 14.5 weeks, 12.4 weeks, and 14.4 weeks for groups A to D, respectively. Mean complication rates were 22.3%, 23.0%, 27.1%, and 28.7% for groups A to D, respectively. Reporting of outcome scores was insufficient to conduct meaningful analysis.


Outcomes following ankle arthrodesis appear to be similar regardless of the duration of postoperative nonweightbearing, although the existing literature is insufficient to make definitive conclusions. Cite this article: Bone Joint J 2019;101-B:1256-1262.


Ankle; Arthrodesis; Complications; Fusion; Outcomes; Rehabilitation; Systematic review; Tibiotalar; Union; Weightbearing

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