Background: The purpose of the present study was to assess the results of reconstruction of the rheumatoid forefoot with arthrodesis of the metatarsophalangeal joint of the great toe, resection arthroplasty of the metatarsal heads of the lesser toes, and open repair of hammer-toe deformity (arthrodesis of the proximal interphalangeal joint) of the lesser toes when this deformity was present.
Methods: A retrospective study of forty-three consecutive patients (fifty-eight feet) with severe rheumatoid forefoot deformities was performed. Six patients (six feet) died before the most recent follow-up, and five patients (five feet) were excluded because a subtotal procedure had been performed. No patient was lost to follow-up. Thus, the study included thirty-two patients (forty-seven feet) in whom reconstruction of a rheumatoid forefoot had been performed by the author.
Results: All first metatarsophalangeal joints had successfully fused at an average of seventy-four months (range, thirty-seven to 108 months) postoperatively. The average postoperative hallux valgus angle was 20 degrees and the average postoperative angle subtended by the axes of the proximal phalanx and the metatarsal of the second ray (the MTP-2 angle) was 14 degrees, demonstrating that a stable first ray protected the lateral rays from later subluxation. One hundred and thirty-two (70 percent) of the 188 lesser metatarsophalangeal joints were dislocated preoperatively, compared with thirteen (7 percent) postoperatively. The result of the procedure (as rated subjectively by the patient) was excellent for twenty-three feet, good for twenty-two, and fair for two. There were no poor results. The average postoperative score according to the system of the American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society was 69 points. Postoperative pain was rated as absent in eighteen feet, mild in twenty-five, moderate in four, and severe in none. Fifteen feet were not associated with any functional limitations, twenty-eight were associated with limitation of recreational activities, and four were associated with limitation of daily activities. At the time of the most recent follow-up, no special shoe requirements were reported. Fourteen feet (30 percent) had a reoperation for the removal of hardware from the first metatarsophalangeal joint, a procedure on the interphalangeal joint of the great toe, or additional procedures on the lesser toes or lesser metatarsophalangeal joints.
Conclusions: In the present study, arthrodesis of the first metatarsophalangeal joint, resection arthroplasty of the lesser metatarsal heads, and repair of fixed hammer-toe deformities with intramedullary Kirschner-wire fixation resulted in a stable repair with a high percentage of successful results at an average of six years after the procedures.