Introduction: Fragility fractures of the ankle are difficult to treat by conventional fixation due to poor bone quality, compromised soft tissues, and inherent instability. Conservative management of these patients also has its problems.
Materials and methods: We retrospectively reviewed 13 patients who underwent intramedullary nailing through the tibiotalocalcaneal joints in an attempt to achieve the dual aims of fracture control and early mobilisation. The Olerud and Molander scale was used as outcome measures.
Results: There were 12 females and 1 male with a mean age of 78.9 (range 64-93). Half of the patients were discharged from hospital within the first 2 weeks after the operation. All achieved a comparable function to their pre-operative state. The mean follow-up period was 11 months (range of 2-62 months). Six are now deceased from unrelated causes. The mean Olerud and Molander score was 50 (range 30-65). All the radiographs showed evidence of fracture union with no changes in the overall alignment of the joint.
Conclusion: Given the low survivorship of this frail group of patients the main objectives are achieving early mobilisation whilst maintaining good fracture position. In our experience, tibiotalocalcaneal nailing is a very useful and successful way of treating fragility fractures of the ankle because it has a low risk of complications and restores function with impressive patient satisfaction. The potential benefits of this technique, we believe, outweigh the disability ensued from subtalar joint fusion.