PEMF as treatment for delayed healing of foot and ankle arthrodesis.
Arthrodesis is the most common surgical treatment for foot and ankle arthritis. In adults, these procedures are associated with a 5% to 10% rate of nonunion. Pulsed electromagnetic field (PEMF) stimulation was approved by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) for treatment of delayed unions after long-bone fractures and joint arthrodesis. The purpose of this study was to examine the results of PEMF treatment for delayed healing after foot and ankle arthrodesis.Three hundred and thirty-four foot and ankle arthrodeses were done. Nineteen resulted in delayed unions that were treated with a protocol of immobilization, limited weightbearing, and PEMF stimulation for a median of 7 (range 5 to 27) months. All patients were followed clinically and radiographically.The use of PEMF, immobilization, and limited weightbearing to treat delayed union after foot and ankle arthrodesis was successful in 5 of 19 (26%) patients. Of the other 14 patients with nonunions, nine had revision surgery with autogenous grafting, continued immobilization, and PEMF stimulation. Seven of these eventually healed at a median of 5.5 (range 2 to 26) months and two did not heal. One patient had a below-knee amputation, and four refused further treatment.The protocol of PEMF, immobilization, and limited weightbearing had a relatively low success rate in this group of patients. We no longer use this protocol alone to treat delayed union after foot and ankle arthrodesis.
Saltzman, C; Lightfoot, A; Amendola, A
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