BACKGROUND: Up to now, there has been no evidence that salvage arthrodesis would perform inferior when compared with primary ankle arthrodesis. The purpose of this study was to compare their clinical and radiographic results.
METHODS: A retrospective analysis was performed using 2 validated scores and assessment of radiographic union by comparing 23 patients who underwent salvage ankle arthrodesis (group SA = salvage arthrodesis) after failed total ankle replacement with 23 matched patients who received primary ankle arthrodesis (group PA = primary arthrodesis). The mean follow-up period was 38 (range 16-92) months in group SA and 56 (23-94) months in group PA.
RESULTS: Complete union was achieved in 17 patients (74%) after a mean time of 50 (13- 114) weeks in group SA and in 16 patients (70%) after a mean time of 23 (10-115) weeks in group PA. The SF-36 score averaged 48 points (7-80) in SA and 66 points (14-94; P = .006) in group PA. In group SA the mean FFI was 57% (22-82) for pain and 71% (44-98) for function. In group PA significantly better results for pain with 34% (0-88; P = .002) and function with 48% (1-92; P = .002) were found.
CONCLUSION: Salvage arthrodesis led to impaired life quality and reduced function combined with significantly higher pain when compared with primary ankle arthrodesis. These findings can be used to counsel our patients preoperatively.
LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Level III, retrospective case series.