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Postoperative Complications of Posterior Ankle and Hindfoot Arthroscopy
Florian Nickisch, MD1; Alexej Barg, MD1; Charles L. Saltzman, MD1; Timothy C. Beals, MD1; Davide E. Bonasia, MD2; Phinit Phisitkul, MD2; John E. Femino, MD2; Annunziato Amendola, MD2
1 Department of Orthopaedics, University of Utah Orthopaedic Center, 590 Wakara Way, Salt Lake City, UT 84108
2 Department of Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation, University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, 200 Hawkins Drive, Iowa City, IA 52242. E-mail address for A. Amendola: ned-amendola@uiowa.edu
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Investigation performed at the University of Utah Orthopaedic Center, Salt Lake City, Utah, and the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, Iowa City, Iowa

A commentary by Richard D. Ferkel, MD, 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 © 2012 by The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, Inc.
J Bone Joint Surg Am, 2012 Mar 07;94(5):439-446. doi: 10.2106/JBJS.K.00069
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Posterior ankle and hindfoot arthroscopy, performed with use of posteromedial and posterolateral portals with the patient in the prone position, has been utilized for the treatment of various disorders. However, there is limited literature addressing the postoperative complications of this procedure. In this study, the postoperative complications in patients treated with posterior ankle and hindfoot arthroscopy were analyzed to determine the type, rate, and severity of complications.


The study included 189 ankles in 186 patients (eighty-two male and 104 female; mean age, 37.1 ± 16.4 years). The minimum duration of follow-up was six months, and the mean was 17 ± 13 months. The most common preoperative intra-articular diagnoses were subtalar osteoarthritis (forty-six ankles), an osteochondral lesion of the talus (forty-two), posterior ankle impingement (thirty-four), ankle osteoarthritis (twenty), and subtalar coalition (five). The most common extra-articular diagnoses were painful os trigonum (forty-six), flexor hallucis longus tendinitis (thirty-two), and insertional Achilles tendinitis (five).


The most common intra-articular procedures were osteochondral lesion debridement (forty-four ankles), subtalar debridement (thirty-eight), subtalar fusion (thirty-three), ankle debridement (thirty), and partial talectomy (nine). The most common extra-articular procedures were os trigonum excision (forty-eight), tenolysis of the flexor hallucis longus tendon (thirty-eight), and endoscopic partial calcanectomy (five). Complications were noted following sixteen procedures (8.5%); four patients had plantar numbness, three had sural nerve dysesthesia, four had Achilles tendon tightness, two had complex regional pain syndrome, two had an infection, and one had a cyst at the posteromedial portal. One case of plantar numbness and one case of sural nerve dysesthesia failed to resolve.


Our experience demonstrated that posterior ankle and hindfoot arthroscopy can be performed with a low rate of major postoperative complications.

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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