Ankle Arthrodesis: Indications and Techniques

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Patients with ankle arthritis and deformity can experience severe pain and functional disability. Those patients who do not respond to nonoperative treatment modalities are candidates for ankle arthrodesis, provided pathologic changes in the subtalar region can be ruled out. Several techniques are available for performing the procedure; the most successful combine an open approach with compression and internal fixation. The foot must be positioned with regard to overall limb alignment and in the optimal position for function. A nonunion rate as high as 40% has been reported. Osteonecrosis of the talus and smoking are known risk factors for nonunion. When good surgical technique is used in carefully selected patients, ankle arthrodesis can be a reliable procedure for the relief of functionally disabling ankle arthritis, deformity, and pain.

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