Although techniques using calcaneus screws have shown high union rates, posterior heel pain due to prominent hardware at the posterior and plantar aspect of the calcaneal tuberosity seems to be a significant complaint that often leads to hardware removal. The purpose of the present study was to identify the clinical and radiologic risk factors associated with calcaneus screw removal. A retrospective study of adult patients who required calcaneus screw fixation from January 2008 to December 2016 was conducted. We reviewed the medical records and radiographs to evaluate the risk factors for screw removal. Of the 123 patients included in the present study, 63 were male and 60 were female. The mean age was 55.0 ± 6.0 years, and the mean body mass index was 31.0 ± 6.0 kg/m2. The removal rate was 8.8% (10 of 114 evaluated) at the 1-year follow-up point and 13.6% (12 of 88 evaluated) at the 2-year follow-up point. The mean interval to removal was 1.23 ± 1.22 years. A total of 16 screws (72.7%) were removed for heel pain. At the 1-year follow-up examination, the removal rate due to inflammatory arthritis was 25.0% (p = .07). Moreover, the proportion of screw removal was greater at 2 years in illicit drug users (p = .008). Screw sizes ≤6.5 mm showed a tendency (p = .12) toward a lower rate of removal at the 2-year follow-up point. Calcaneus screws should be used with caution in specific patient populations such as illicit drug users and those with inflammatory arthritis. The use of smaller diameter calcaneus screws might be an option to lower the rate of screw removal due to heel pain.
Level of Clinical Evidence: 3