Surgical Arthrodesis of the Neuropathic Foot: A Salvage Procedure

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Abstract

Reconstructive foot and ankle surgery is a salvage procedure in the deformed neuropathic foot, despite condemnation by some authors. Clinical union and stability was achieved in 91% of the patients, and soft-tissue coverage without skin breakdown was achieved in 100% of the cases. Although one patient had moderate to severe pain in her ankle after operation and was able to do only bed-to-wheelchair transfers, she had good clinical stability, no skin ulceration, and was satisfied overall with the procedure. In addition, a significant component of her pain was believed to be from diabetic neuropathy and not pain that was directly attributable to her reconstructive surgery. All other patients were able to ambulate to some degree. More than half had unlimited use of the affected lower extremity. More than half of the patients had mild or no pain, and all patients had a functional limb. Surgical arthrodesis of the deformed neuropathic foot as a salvage procedure can preserve the limb as a stable functional unit, and create an acceptable alignment of the ankle-foot complex that will promote viability of the overlying soft-tissue structures.

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