Background: Pantalar arthrodesis is considered by many to be the final operative option before amputation for the treatment of paralytic foot deformities. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the long-term results of pantalar arthrodesis with regard to its impact on the adjacent joints and the walking ability of patients with paralytic foot deformities.
Methods: Twenty-four patients (seventeen men and seven women) who underwent a one-stage pantalar arthrodesis between 1953 and 1973 for the treatment of sequelae of poliomyelitis were reevaluated. All patients underwent a physical and radiographic examination, and all completed the Short Form-36 questionnaire and a pantalar arthrodesis-specific questionnaire.
Results: The average age of the patients was twenty years at the time of the operation and 57.2 years at the time of the latest evaluation. The average duration of follow-up was 37.2 years. Eleven patients had development of immediate postoperative complications, including wound-healing problems (nine) and infections (two). The long-term results, however, were good (mean Short Form-36 scores, 73 of 100 points [overall], 51.5 points [physical functioning], and >70 points [all other domains]). Sixteen patients experienced repeated episodes of ipsilateral knee pain; most (fifteen) of these patients experienced a gradual onset of this pain, starting at an average of 20.8 years (range, fifteen to thirty years) postoperatively. The position of the fused ankle did not appear to have a significant impact on the development of ipsilateral knee pain or the time interval between the pantalar arthrodesis and the onset of ipsilateral knee pain.
Conclusions: Pantalar arthrodesis effectively stabilizes the ankle, hindfoot, and midfoot in patients with severe paralytic deformities. Even though most patients can be expected to have development of osteoarthritis of the ipsilateral knee, it seems that a successfully performed pantalar arthrodesis in carefully selected cases is a reliable operative option offering a strong and stable foot that will function well for many years.
Level of Evidence: Therapeutic Level IV. See Instructions to Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.