header advert
Orthopaedic Proceedings Logo

Receive monthly Table of Contents alerts from Orthopaedic Proceedings

Comprehensive article alerts can be set up and managed through your account settings

View my account settings

Visit Orthopaedic Proceedings at:



Full Access

General Orthopaedics


The British Limb Reconstruction Society (BLRS) Annual Meeting 2023, Belfast, Northern Ireland, 23–24 March 2023.



Ankle fractures in the elderly have been increasing with an ageing but active population and bring with them specific challenges. Medical co-morbidities, a poor soft tissue envelope and a requirement for early mobilisation to prevent morbidity and mortality, all create potential pitfalls to successful treatment. As a result, different techniques have been employed to try and improve outcomes. Total contact casting, both standard and enhanced open reduction internal fixation, external fixation and most recently tibiotalocalcaneal (TTC) nailing have all been proposed as suitable treatment modalities. Over the past five years popular literature has begun to herald TTC nailing as an appropriate and contemporary solution to the complex problem of high-risk ankle fragility fractures. We sought to assess whether, within our patient cohort, the outcomes seen supported the statement that TTC has equal outcomes to more traditional open reduction internal fixation (ORIF) when used to treat the high-risk ankle fragility fracture.

Materials & Methods

Results of ORIF versus TTC nailing without joint preparation for treatment of fragility ankle fractures were evaluated via retrospective cohort study of 64 patients with high-risk fragility ankle fractures without our trauma centre. We aimed to assess whether results within our unit were equal to those seen within other published studies. Patients were matched 1:1 based on gender, age, Charlson Comorbidity Index (CCI) and ASA score. Patient demographics, AO/OTA fracture classification, intra-operative and post-operative complications, discharge destination, union rates, FADI scores and patient mobility were recorded.


There were 32 patients within each arm. Mean age was 78.4 (TTC) and 78.3 (ORIF). The CCI was 5.9 in each group respectively with mean ASA 2.9 (TTC) and 2.8 (ORIF). There were two open fractures within each group. Median follow up duration was 26 months. Time to theatre from injury was 8.0 days (TTC) versus 3.3 days (ORIF). There was no statistically significant difference in 30-day, one year or overall mortality at final follow up. Kaplan-Meier survivorship analysis did however demonstrate that of those patients who died post-operatively the mean time to mortality was significantly shorter in those treated with TTC nailing versus ORIF (20.3 months versus 38.2 months, p=0.013). There was no statistical difference in the overall complication rate between the two groups (46.9% versus 25%, p=0.12). The re-operation rate was twice as high in patients treated with TTC nailing however this was not statistically significant. There was no statistical difference in the FADI scores at final follow up, 72.1±12.9 (TTC) versus 67.9±13.9 (ORIF) nor post-operative mobility status.


Within our study TTC nailing with an unprepared joint demonstrated broadly equivalent results to ORIF in the management of high-risk ankle fragility fractures; this replicates findings of previous studies. We did however observe that mean survival was significantly shorter in the TTC group than those treated with ORIF. We believe this may have been contributed to by a delay to theatre due to TTC stabilisation being treated as a sub-specialist operation in our unit at the time. We propose that both TTC and ORIF are satisfactory techniques to stabilise the frail ankle fracture however, similarly to the other fragility fractures, the priority should be on an emergent operation in a timely fashion in order to minimise the associated morbidity and mortality. Further randomised control studies are needed within the area to establish definitive results and a working consensus.