Background: Fractures of the body of the talus are uncommon and poorly described. The purposes of the present study were to characterize these fractures, to describe one treatment approach, and to evaluate the clinical, radiographic, and functional outcomes of operative treatment.
Methods: Fifty-six patients with fifty-seven talar body fractures who had been treated operatively during a sixty-seven-month period at a level-1 trauma center were identified with use of a database. Twenty-three patients had a concomitant talar neck fracture. Eleven of the fifty-seven fractures were open. All patients underwent open reduction and internal fixation. Complications, secondary procedures, and the ability to return to work were evaluated at a minimum of one year. The radiographic presence of osteonecrosis and posttraumatic arthritis was ascertained. Foot Function Index and Musculoskeletal Function Assessment questionnaires were completed.
Results: Thirty-eight patients were evaluated after an average duration of follow-up of thirty-three months. Early complications occurred in eight patients. Ten of the twenty-six patients who had a complete set of radiographs had development of osteonecrosis of the talar body. Five of these ten patients experienced collapse of the talar dome at a mean of 10.2 months after surgery. All patients with a history of both an open fracture and osteonecrosis experienced collapse. Seventeen of twenty-six patients had posttraumatic arthritis of the tibiotalar joint, and nine of twenty-six had posttraumatic arthritis of the subtalar joint. Fractures of both the talar body and neck led to development of advanced arthritis more frequently than did fractures of the talar body only (p = 0.04). All patients with open fractures had end-stage posttraumatic arthritis (p = 0.053). Twenty-three (88%) of twenty-six patients had radiographic evidence of osteonecrosis and/or posttraumatic arthritis. Worse outcomes were noted in association with comminuted and open fractures. Osteonecrosis and posttraumatic arthritis adversely affected outcome scores.
Conclusions: Open reduction and internal fixation of talar body fractures may restore congruity of the adjacent joints. However, early complications are not infrequent, and most patients have development of radiographic evidence of osteonecrosis and/or posttraumatic arthritis. Associated talar neck fractures and open fractures more commonly result in osteonecrosis or advanced arthritis. Worse functional outcomes are seen in association with advanced posttraumatic arthritis and osteonecrosis that progresses to collapse. It is important to counsel patients regarding these devastating injuries and their poor prognosis and potential complications.
Level of Evidence: Therapeutic study, Level IV (case series [no, or historical, control group]). See Instructions to Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.