Background: Ankle arthrodesis and replacement are two common surgical treatment options for end-stage ankle osteoarthritis. However, the relative value of these alternative procedures is not well defined. This study compared the clinical and radiographic outcomes as well as the early perioperative complications of the two procedures.
Methods: Between January 2, 1998 and May 31, 2002, 138 patients were treated with ankle fusion or replacements. Seventy one patients had isolated posttraumatic or primary ankle arthritis. However, patients with inflammatory arthritis, neuropathic arthritis, concomitant hind foot fusion, revision procedures and two component system ankle replacement were excluded. Among them, one group of 42 patients had a total ankle replacement (TAR), whereas the other group of 29 patients underwent ankle fusion. A complete follow-up could be performed on 89% (37/42) and 73% (23/29) of the TAR and ankle fusion group, respectively. The mean follow-up period was 4.2 years (range, 2.2 to 5.9 years).
Results: The outcomes of both groups were compared using a student's t-test. Only the short form heath survery mental component summary score and Ankle Osteoarthritis Scale pain scale showed significantly better outcomes in the TAR group (p < 0.05). In the radiographic evaluation, there was no significant difference in preoperative and postoperative osteoarthritis between the TAR and fusion groups.
Conclusions: The clinical results of TAR are similar to those of fusion at an average follow-up of 4 years. However, the arthroplasty group showed better pain relief and more postoperative complications that required surgery.
Keywords: Ankle; Arthrodesis; Arthroplasty; Replacement.