Total Ankle Replacement in Patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis

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Patients with rheumatoid arthritis commonly experience involvement of the ankle and hindfoot. Severe pain and functional limitations may develop as a result of tibiotalar arthritis, requiring surgical treatment. The advantages of total ankle arthroplasty over ankle arthrodesis include preservation of motion and decreased stresses on the midfoot and subtalar joints. Previous experience with early design ankle replacements revealed high complication rates and as much as 75% of component loosening. Modern ankle implants have been designed to achieve uncemented fixation with less articular constraint. Patients with rheumatoid arthritis who had total ankle replacement using two different types of second-generation ankle implants were examined clinically and radiographically. The average postoperative American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society ankle-hindfoot score was 81 of a possible 100, at a mean of 6.4 years after surgery. Radiographically, 88.5% of implants were stable without evidence of subsidence at a mean of 6.3 years. Three tibial components had subsided at an average of 7 years. There was evidence of tibial osteolysis with the Buechel Pappas Low Contact Stress implant in 11.5% of patients. Total ankle replacement in patients with rheumatoid arthritis, using a second-generation prosthesis, can provide reliable relief of pain and good functional results at intermediate-term followup, although the incidence of osteolysis warrants close followup.

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