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Long-Term Results Following Ankle Arthrodesis for Post-Traumatic Arthritis
Lisa M. Coester, MD; Charles L. Saltzman, MD; John Leupold, MD; William Pontarelli, MD
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Investigation performed at the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, Iowa City, Iowa
Lisa M. Coester, MD Charles L. Saltzman, MD John Leupold, MD
William Pontarelli, MD Departments of Orthopaedic Surgery (L.M.C., C.L.S., J.L., and W.P.), LL-JPP, and Biomedical Engineering (C.L.S.), LL-JPP 01017, University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, 200 Hawkins Drive, Iowa City, IA 52242. E-mail address for C.L. Saltzman: charles-saltzman@uiowa.edu
No benefits in any form have been received or will be received from a commercial party related directly or indirectly to the subject of this article. No funds were received in support of this study.A video supplement to this article is available from the Video Journal of Orthopaedics. A video clip is available at the JBJS web site, www.jbjs.org. The Video Journal of Orthopaedics can be contacted at (805) 962-3410, web site: www.vjortho.com.

J Bone Joint Surg Am, 2001 Feb 01;83(2):219-219
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Background: Ankle arthrodesis is considered by many to be the standard operative treatment for end-stage ankle arthritis; however, the long-term effect of ankle arthrodesis on other lower-extremity joints remains largely unknown. The purpose of this study was to perform a clinical and radiographic review to determine the effect of ankle arthrodesis on the development of osteoarthritis in other lower-extremity joints.

Methods: Twenty-three patients who had had an isolated ankle arthrodesis for the treatment of painful post-traumatic arthritis of the ankle were followed for a mean of twenty-two years (range, twelve to forty-four years) after the operation. Each completed standardized, self-reported outcome questionnaires (the Foot Function Index, Western Ontario and McMaster University Osteoarthritis Index [WOMAC], and Short Form-36 [SF-36]), was examined clinically by two of the investigators, and underwent complete radiographic examination of the knee, ankle, and foot bilaterally. The radiographic grade of osteoarthritis was determined for each joint, and the levels of overall activity limitation, pain, and disability were determined for each patient from the clinical findings and questionnaire information.

Results: Osteoarthritis of the ipsilateral subtalar (p < 0.0001), talonavicular (p < 0.0001), calcaneocuboid (p < 0.0001), naviculocuneiform (p = 0.0012), tarsometatarsal (p = 0.0009), and first metatarsophalangeal joints (p = 0.0012) was consistently more severe than the osteoarthritis of those joints on the contralateral side. Osteoarthritis did not develop more frequently in the ipsilateral knee or lesser metatarsophalangeal joints than it did on the contralateral side. Significant differences between the two sides were found with regard to overall activity limitation (p < 0.0001), pain (p < 0.0001), and disability (p < 0.0001), with the involved side consistently more symptomatic.

Conclusions: To our knowledge, the present series represents the longest follow-up study of ankle arthrodesis to date. Our cohort of patients all had isolated post-traumatic ankle arthritis, and each underwent a successful isolated ankle arthrodesis. At a mean of twenty-two years, the majority of the patients had substantial, and accelerated, arthritic changes in the ipsilateral foot but not the knee. They were often limited functionally by foot pain. Although ankle arthrodesis may provide good early relief of pain, it is associated with premature deterioration of other joints of the foot and eventual arthritis, pain, and dysfunction.

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    Accreditation Statement
    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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