Use of a retrograde nail for ankle arthrodesis in Charcot neuroarthropathy: A limb salvage procedure

Abano Terme Hospital, Diabetic Foot Department, Piazza Cristoforo Columbo 1, Abano Terme, Padova 35031, Italy.
Foot & Ankle International (Impact Factor: 1.63). 10/2007; 28(9):967-70. DOI: 10.3113/FAI.2007.0967
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Charcot neuroarthropathy is a serious complication associated with diabetic neuropathy. This complication probably is most serious when the ankle is involved because of the instability and progressive deformity, which often leads to ulceration, osteomyelitis, and amputation. Arthrodesis before the ulcerated lesion appears is considered a limb salvage treatment. One of the most effective techniques for an unstable ankle in Charcot neuroarthropathy is retrograde transcalcaneal nailing.
Eighteen diabetic patients, without a history of ulceration, were treated from July, 2003, to November, 2005, with panarthrodesis of the ankle using intramedullary retrograde transcalcaneal nailing. The average follow up was 14 +/- 10.1 months. All patients completed the unloaded postoperative period with a fiberglass cast (3 months nonweightbearing and 3 months partial weightbearing) and commenced walking in shoes with a stiff rocker sole and a molded insole.
During the followup period there were no major complications. In three patients, removal of one of the proximal screws used for anchoring the nail to the tibia was done because of protrusion causing skin breakdown. Fourteen patients had a stable fusion and four patients had fibrous union. The percentage of limb salvage was 100% in the followup period.
Our study confirms that this operative technique is effective and safe.

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