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Revision Tibiotalar Arthrodesis
Mark E. Easley, MD1; Harvey E. Montijo, BHS1; Joseph B. Wilson, MD1; Robert D. Fitch, MD2; James A. Nunley, II, MD3
1 Duke Health Center, 3116 North Duke Street, Room 243, Durham, NC 27704. E-mail address for M. Easley: easle004@mc.duke.edu
2 Division of Orthopaedic Surgery, Duke University Medical Center, Box 2911, Durham, NC 27710
3 Division of Orthopaedic Surgery, Duke University Medical Center, Box 2923, Durham, NC 27710
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Disclosure: The authors did not receive any outside funding or grants in support of their research for or preparation of this work. Neither they nor a member of their immediate families received payments or other benefits or a commitment or agreement to provide such benefits from a commercial entity. No commercial entity paid or directed, or agreed to pay or direct, any benefits to any research fund, foundation, division, center, clinical practice, or other charitable or nonprofit organization with which the authors, or a member of their immediate families, are affiliated or associated.

Investigation performed at Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina

Copyright © 2008 by The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, Inc.
J Bone Joint Surg Am, 2008 Jun 01;90(6):1212-1223. doi: 10.2106/JBJS.G.00506
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Contemporary recommendations for primary and revision ankle arthrodesis favor internal compression techniques involving the use of screw and/or plate fixation. While tibiotalocalcaneal arthrodesis with internal fixation may be a suitable method of salvage for the treatment of a failed tibiotalar arthrodesis in selected patients, ring external fixation has been reported as an alternative. We reviewed our experience with revision tibiotalar arthrodesis, with a focus on ring external fixation.


Forty-five consecutive patients underwent revision tibiotalar arthrodesis with use of repeat internal fixation (eleven patients), ring external fixation (twenty-two patients), or tibiotalocalcaneal arthrodesis (twelve patients). Union rates were assessed radiographically, and functional outcome was determined with use of preoperative and postoperative American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society ankle-hindfoot scores.


All forty-five patients were available for follow-up at an average of 50.3 months. The average ankle-hindfoot score improved from 31.1 points preoperatively to 65.8 points at the time of the most recent follow-up. At the time of the most recent follow-up, the union rate was 88.9% (forty of forty-five). Fusion was achieved with revision tibiotalar arthrodesis in thirty-six (80%) of forty-five patients, including eight of the eleven patients in the repeat internal fixation group, nineteen of the twenty-two patients in the ring external fixation group, and nine of the twelve patients in the tibiotalocalcaneal arthrodesis group. Re-revision led to union in four of five patients. The overall union rate for ring external fixation, including revision and re-revision tibiotalar arthrodeses, was 84.6% (twenty-two of twenty-six). The five patients with persistent nonunion following revision ankle arthrodesis opted for transtibial amputation.


Revision tibiotalar arthrodesis leads to satisfactory limb salvage in a majority of patients. Ring external fixation may facilitate clinically acceptable limb salvage in complex cases when methods of internal fixation are limited or even contraindicated.

Level of Evidence: 

Therapeutic Level IV. See Instructions to Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.

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    These activities have been planned and implemented in accordance with the Essential Areas and policies of the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) through the joint sponsorship of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, Inc. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons is accredited by the ACCME to provide continuing medical education for physicians.
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