Initial reports have shown the efficacy of fixed distraction for the treatment of ankle osteoarthritis. We hypothesized that allowing ankle motion during distraction would result in significant improvements in outcomes compared with distraction without ankle motion.Methods:
We conducted a prospective randomized controlled trial comparing the outcomes for patients with advanced ankle osteoarthritis who were managed with anterior osteophyte removal and either (1) fixed ankle distraction or (2) ankle distraction permitting joint motion. Thirty-six patients were randomized to treatment with either fixed distraction or distraction with motion. The patients were followed for twenty-four months after frame removal. The Ankle Osteoarthritis Scale (AOS) was the main outcome variable.Results:
Two years after frame removal, subjects in both groups showed significant improvement compared with the status before treatment (p < 0.02 for both groups). The motion-distraction group had significantly better AOS scores than the fixed-distraction group at twenty-six, fifty-two, and 104 weeks after frame removal (p < 0.01 at each time point). At 104 weeks, the motion-distraction group had an overall mean improvement of 56.6% in the AOS score, whereas the fixed-distraction group had a mean improvement of 22.9% (p < 0.01).Conclusion:
Distraction improved the patient-reported outcomes of treatment of ankle osteoarthritis. Adding ankle motion to distraction showed an early and sustained beneficial effect on outcome.Level of Evidence:
Therapeutic Level I. See Instructions for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.