Background: Infected nonunions and extrusions of the talus can often lead to below-knee amputation. Limb-salvage procedures have goals of eradicating infection and creating a painless, stable limb. Often, a tibiocalcaneal fusion is the best option; however, in the presence of infection and bone loss, it can be difficult to achieve a successful outcome using internal fixation. We review the results of circular ring external fixation to obtain a tibiocalcaneal arthrodesis despite these obstacles. Methods: A retrospective review of 11 patients who underwent tibiocalcaneal arthodesis using an Ilizarov external fixator for infected talar nonunions or extrusions was performed. Each patient had a debridement of all nonviable talus. The bony surfaces were prepared for the fusion followed by application of a circular ring fixator. Clinical outcomes were measured using the AOFAS ankle-hindfoot scale. There was a mean followup of 35 months. Results: Nine of the 11 patients had successful fusions. One fused successfully after a revision and the other developed a stable pseudoarthrosis. Eight patients underwent concomitant lengthening with the Ilizarov fixator. Mean AOFAS score at final followup was 65. This was out of a maximum of 86 since the tibiotalar and subtalar joint motion were removed. There were no recurrent deep infections or amputations. Conclusions: Tibiocalcaneal arthrodesis using the Ilizarov technique is a viable alternative to amputation in patients with infected nonunions or large bone loss of the talus.
- Ilizarov external fixator
- Limb salvage
- Tibiocalcaneal arthrodesis
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Orthopedics and Sports Medicine