Ankle Arthrodesis in Patients With Rheumatoid Arthritis

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The results of 26 ankle arthrodeses performed for rheumatoid arthritis on 21 patients were reviewed. Tibiotalar arthrodesis was performed in 14 ankles, and tibiotalocalcaneal arthrodesis was performed in 12. External fixation was used in 20 ankles, and internal fixation was used in six. Followup was available in 24 of 26 ankles (19 patients), and averaged 5 years (range, 2-8 years). There was no pain experienced in 19 ankles; mild, occasional pain was experienced in four ankles; and moderate, daily pain was experienced in one ankle. Daily activities were limited in five patients and recreational activities were limited in 11. All patients reported some difficulty walking on uneven terrain. Nearly all patients were satisfied; two were satisfied with reservations and two were dissatisfied. Union was achieved in 25 of 26 (96%) ankles. Ankle arthrodesis is an effective operation in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Unlike previous reports, union and complication rates in this series were comparable with rates for arthrodesis for posttraumatic and degenerative arthritis.

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