Knee arthrodesis with circular external fixation.
Knee arthrodesis can enable limb salvage in patients with disability secondary to trauma, infected total knee arthroplasty, pyarthrosis, and other complications. Historically, intramedullary nailing has resulted in the highest overall knee fusion rates. However, intramedullary nailing is relatively contraindicated in the presence of active infection. Nineteen patients who underwent knee arthrodesis with circular external fixation were studied retrospectively. Postoperative radiographs were evaluated for evidence of bony fusion, which was defined as trabecular bridging between the femur and tibia. Patients were interviewed and graded using the functional assessment portion of the Knee Society clinical rating system. Fusion was successful in 13 of 19 (68%) patients. Overall, patients spent an average of 4 months 8 days wearing the circular external fixator. Average time to radiographic and clinical evidence of arthrodesis (defined as lack of motion across the fusion site) was 4 months 18 days. No patient with successful fusion considered himself or herself housebound. All but one of these patients require some form of assistive device for ambulation. Complications occurred in 16 of 19 (84%) patients overall. Superficial pin tract infection (55%) and nonunion (32%) were the most common. Circular external fixation is an effective method for obtaining knee arthrodesis in patients who are not good candidates for intramedullary nailing.
Garberina, MJ; Fitch, RD; Hoffmann, ED; Hardaker, WT; Vail, TP; Scully, SP
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