Isolated subtalar arthrodesis.
BACKGROUND: The purposes of this retrospective study were to review the results of isolated subtalar arthrodesis in adults and to identify factors influencing the union rate. The hypotheses were that (1) the overall outcome is acceptable but is not as favorable as previously reported, (2) complication rates, especially the nonunion rate, are higher than previously reported, and (3) factors contributing to a less favorable union rate can be identified. METHODS: Between January 1988 and July 1995, 184 consecutive isolated subtalar arthrodeses were performed in 174 adults (115 men and fifty-nine women) whose average age was forty-three years (range, eighteen to seventy-nine years). Eighty patients (46 percent) were smokers. The indications for the procedure included posttraumatic arthritis after a fracture of the calcaneus (109 feet), a fracture of the talus (thirteen feet), or a subtalar dislocation (thirteen feet); primary subtalar arthritis (thirteen feet); failure of a previous subtalar arthrodesis (twenty-eight feet); and residual congenital deformity (eight feet). Rigid internal fixation with one or two screws was used for all feet. Bone graft was used in 145 feet; the types of graft material included cancellous autograft (ninety-four feet), structural autograft (twenty-nine feet), cancellous allograft (seventeen feet), and structural allograft (five feet). Bone graft was not used in the remaining thirty-nine feet. RESULTS: Clinical and radiographic follow-up examinations were performed for 148 (80 percent) of the 184 feet at an average of fifty-one months (range, twenty-four to 130 months) postoperatively. The average ankle-hindfoot score according to the modified scale of the American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society (maximum possible score, 94 points) improved from 24 points preoperatively to 70 points at follow-up. Thirty feet had clinical evidence of nonunion. The union rate was 84 percent (154 of 184) overall, 86 percent (134 of 156) after primary arthrodesis, and 71 percent (twenty of twenty-eight) after revision arthrodesis. The union rate was 92 percent (ninety-three of 101 feet) for nonsmokers and 73 percent (sixty-one of eighty-three feet) for smokers (p < 0.05). Intraoperative inspection revealed that 42 percent (seventy-eight) of the 184 feet had evidence of more than two millimeters of avascular bone at the subtalar joint; all thirty nonunions occurred in this group (p < 0.05). A nonunion occurred in three of the five feet that had been treated with structural allograft and in two of the six feet in which the subtalar arthrodesis had been performed adjacent to the site of a previous ankle arthrodesis. After elimination of the subgroups of feet in patients who smoked, those that had had a failure of a previous subtalar arthrodesis, those that had been treated with a structural graft, and those that had had the subtalar arthrodesis adjacent to the site of a previous ankle arthrodesis, the union rate improved to 96 percent (seventy-three of seventy-six). Complications other than nonunion included prominent hardware requiring screw removal (thirty-six of 184 feet; 20 percent), lateral impingement (fifteen of 148 feet; 10 percent), symptomatic valgus malalignment (five of 148 feet; 3 percent), symptomatic varus malalignment (four of 148 feet; 3 percent), and infection (five of 184 feet; 3 percent). CONCLUSIONS: To the best of our knowledge, the present study includes the largest reported series of isolated subtalar arthrodeses in adults. Our results suggest that the outcome following isolated subtalar arthrodesis is not as favorable as has been reported in previous studies. The rate of union was significantly diminished by smoking, the presence of more than two millimeters of avascular bone at the arthrodesis site, and the failure of a previous subtalar arthrodesis (p < 0.05 for all). Other factors that probably affect the union rate include the use of structural allograft and performance of the arthrodesis adjac
Easley, ME; Trnka, HJ; Schon, LC; Myerson, MS
Volume / Issue
Start / End Page
Pubmed Central ID
International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)