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Differences in Outcomes Following Total Ankle Replacement in Patients with Neutral Alignment Compared with Tibiotalar Joint Malalignment
Robin M. Queen, PhD1; Samuel B. Adams, Jr., MD2; Nicholas A. Viens, MD2; Jennifer K. Friend, AS2; Mark E. Easley, MD2; James K. DeOrio, MD2; James A. Nunley, MD2
1 Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Duke University Medical Center, Box 3435, Durham, NC 27710 E-mail address: robin.queen@duke.edu
2 Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Duke University Medical Center, Box 3956, Durham, NC 27710
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Investigation performed at the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina

A commentary by Ross A. Benthien, MD, MPH, is linked to the online version of this article at jbjs.org.

Disclosure: None of the authors received payments or services, either directly or indirectly (i.e., via his or her institution), from a third party in support of any aspect of this work. One or more of the authors, or his or her institution, has had a financial relationship, in the thirty-six months prior to submission of this work, with an entity in the biomedical arena that could be perceived to influence or have the potential to influence what is written in this work. No author has had any other relationships, or has engaged in any other activities, that could be perceived to influence or have the potential to influence what is written in this work. The complete Disclosures of Potential Conflicts of Interest submitted by authors are always provided with the online version of the article.

Copyright © 2013 by The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, Inc.
J Bone Joint Surg Am, 2013 Nov 06;95(21):1927-1934. doi: 10.2106/JBJS.L.00404
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Excessive tibiotalar malalignment in the coronal plane has been considered by some to be a contraindication to total ankle replacement. The purpose of the present study was to compare clinical outcomes and physical performance measures according to preoperative tibiotalar alignment.


One hundred and three patients undergoing total ankle replacement were grouped according to coronal plane tibiotalar alignment. Seventeen patients had an excessive deformity (>15° of varus or valgus), twenty-one had moderate valgus alignment (5° to 15° of valgus), twenty-seven had moderate varus alignment (5° to 15° of varus), and thirty-eight had neutral alignment (<5° of varus or valgus). Outcome measures, including the American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society (AOFAS) hindfoot score, the Foot and Ankle Disability Index (FADI), the Short Form-36 (SF-36), the timed up and go test (TUG), the four square step test (4SST), and walking speed, were assessed preoperatively and at one and two years after total ankle replacement.


Coronal plane alignment improved following the procedure, with 36.9% of patients having neutral alignment preoperatively as compared with 95% postoperatively. To achieve this alignment, adjunctive procedures, including deltoid ligament release, lateral ligament reconstruction, and posterior soft-tissue releases, were necessary. Significant improvements were seen for the Page: 3 AOFAS pain, function, alignment, and hindfoot scores (p < 0.001) and the SF-36 subscales of body pain, physical function, and role physical (p < 0.001) following total ankle replacement. Walking speed and the FADI, TUG, and 4SST scores also improved significantly (p < 0.001). Subgroup analysis demonstrated no significant differences in clinical outcomes and physical performance measures based on preoperative coronal plane alignment.


Total ankle replacement improves clinical and functional outcomes independent of preoperative tibiotalar alignment when postoperative alignment is restored to neutral at the time of arthroplasty.

Level of Evidence: 

Therapeutic Level IV. See Instructions for 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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