The aim of this study was to evaluate the results of open reduction and internal fixation through the extended lateral approach (ELA) in displaced intra-articular calcaneal fractures and to determine whether this approach should remain part of standard therapy. This retrospective cohort study included 60 patients with 64 displaced intra-articular calcaneal fractures who underwent surgical treatment through the ELA. Outcome measures were the visual analog scale foot and ankle (VAS FA), the American Orthopedic Foot and Ankle Society (AOFAS) score, surgical site infections (SSIs), and reoperations. We determined the AOFAS score for 40 patients with 42 fractures, and 42 patients with 44 fractures completed the VAS FA questionnaire. The mean VAS FA score was 61.0 ± 23.4 and the median AOFAS score was 83 (range 33 to 100), with 55% good to excellent scores. We found 10.9% superficial SSIs successfully treated with antibiotics. In 4.7% of patients a deep SSI was diagnosed, wherefore premature implant removal was necessary. Patients with an SSI did not have significantly lower VAS FA or AOFAS scores than did patients without an SSI (p = .318 and p = .766, respectively). Implant removal in absence of SSIs was necessary in 17 patients because of pain, and 3 patients needed secondary arthrodesis because of persistent pain. We concluded that the ELA proved to be a safe procedure, and moreover the most common complications did not influence the long-term outcomes of patients. However, recent literature demonstrates that less invasive techniques seem to exceed the ELA with respect to wound complications.
Level of Evidence: 3