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7th Congress of the European Federation of National Associations of Orthopaedics and Traumatology, Lisbon - 4-7 June, 2005


Purpose: To investigate the outcome of tibiotalocalcaneal (TCC) fusion using the retrograde intramedullary nail (IMN).

Methods and results: We reviewed clinical and radiological outcome of 42 patients who underwent TTC fusion with a retrograde IMN in a single health region from 1996 to 2003. Out of 42 patients, four patients died of unrelated causes and two patients were lost to follow up. Finally, 36 patients (20 males, 16 females) were followed up. Mean age was 63 years and the follow up averaged 10 months. Degenerative arthritis (primary and post traumatic) and rheumatoid arthritis made up the majority of the preoperative diagnoses. Clinical outcome was assessed using the AOFAS hindfoot score and three independent observers reviewing radiographs.

Radiologically 22 ankles fused, three probably fused whilst 11 (30%) had evidence of non-union. The majority of subtalar joints failed to unite, reflected by the high rate of distal screw breakage. Primary bone grafting appeared to aid union however smoking, age and the use of an open approach did not seem to be significant factors. Other than non-union complications included two nail fatigue fractures, two deep infections, seven screw breakages, six wound problems and one fractured tibia. Post operatively the mean AOFAS score was 51, 25 patients were satisfied (of these 20% had radiological non-union) and 19 would undergo the same procedure again.

Conclusion: Despite a high rate of ankle and subtalar non-union most of the patients were satisfied with the procedure and would undergo the same operation again. Technical errors apart, the high rate of complications and non-union probably reflected the advanced nature of the disease process and deformity in this group of patients. Although IMN TTC fusion remains a viable option in the management of concurrent ankle and sub-talar joint arthritis, patients should be warned of the potential for non-union and high complication rates.

Theses abstracts were prepared by Professor Roger Lemaire. Correspondence should be addressed to EFORT Central Office, Freihofstrasse 22, CH-8700 Küsnacht, Switzerland.