Purpose: The purpose of this study was to describe the short-term clinical outcome of a new arthroscopic fixation technique for primary osteochondral talar defects: lift, drill, fill and fix (LDFF).
Methods: Seven patients underwent an arthroscopic LDFF surgery for osteochondral talar defects, the mean follow-up was 12 months (SD 0.6). Pre- and postoperative clinical assessment included the American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society Score (AOFAS) and the numeric rating scales (NRS) of pain at rest and during walking. Remodelling and bone ingrowth after LDFF were analysed on weight-bearing radiographs during follow-up.
Results: In all patients, LDFF led to an improvement of the AOFAS and NRS of pain. The AOFAS significantly improved from 63 to 99 (p < 0.001). The NRS of pain at rest significantly improved from 2.9 to 0.1 (p = 0.004), and pain with walking significantly improved from 7.6 to 0.1 (p < 0.001). On the final radiographs, five of seven patients showed remodelling and bone ingrowth after LDFF.
Conclusions: The LDFF of an osteochondral talar defect appears to be a promising arthroscopic treatment option for primary talar osteochondral defects. Although the clinical and radiological results of 1-year follow-up are encouraging, more patients and longer follow-up are needed to draw any firm conclusions and determine whether the results stand the test of time.
Level of evidence: Prospective case series. Therapeutic, Level IV.
Keywords: Ankle; Arthroscopy; Cartilage-saving procedure; LDFF; Talar OCD.