Operative treatment of calcaneal fractures: improved outcomes and low complications rates with a strict management protocol

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This is a retrospective review of 80 intra-articular calcaneal fractures treated with open reduction and internal fixation by a specialist team under supervision of a single surgeon in a tertiary centre between 2005 and 2014. The fractures were evaluated with plain radiography and computed tomography, and graded using the Eastwood-Atkins classification. A lateral approach was used and all fractures were fixed with calcaneal plates.

All patients had clinical and radiological follow-up. Clinical assessment included foot and ankle disability index, SF-36® and Kerr-Atkins scores. The mean follow-up duration was 72 months (range: 12-130 months). The mean age of patients was 49 years (range: 17-73 years). There were three open fractures and eight patients had other injuries. The mean Bohler’s angle improved from 6° preoperatively to 26° postoperatively. The mean foot and ankle disability index score was 78.62, the mean SF-36® scores were 45.5 (physical component) and 52.6 (mental component), and the mean Kerr-Atkins score was 72 (range: 36-100).

Early complications included one case of screw protrusion in the subtalar joint (which warranted a repeat procedure), one sural nerve injury and one wound breakdown, which healed with non-operative measures. Twelve patients had symptomatic subtalar joint osteoarthritis. Four of these had subtalar fusion. We believe that our strict protocols of patient selection, intraoperative and postoperative management produced long-term results comparable with those in the peer reviewed literature.

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