Effect of Retrograde Reaming for Tibiotalocalcaneal Arthrodesis on Subtalar Joint Destruction: A Cadaveric Study

J Foot Ankle Surg. 2016 Jan-Feb;55(1):72-5. doi: 10.1053/j.jfas.2015.06.022. Epub 2015 Sep 11.


Recent published data have suggested successful union of subtalar and tibiotalar joints without formal debridement during tibiotalocalcaneal (TTC) fusion procedures. Although previous studies have reported on the importance of the proper guidewire starting point and trajectory to obtain appropriate hindfoot alignment for successful fusion, to our knowledge, no studies have quantified the amount of articular damage to the subtalar joint with retrograde reaming. We hypothesized that reaming would destroy >50% of the posterior facet of the subtalar joint. The bilateral lower extremities of 5 cadavers were obtained and the subtalar joints exposed. Retrograde TTC nail guidewires were inserted, and a 12-mm reamer was passed through the subtalar and ankle joints. Pre- and postreaming images of the subtalar joint were obtained to compare the amount of joint destruction after reaming. We found an average of 5.89% articular destruction of the talar posterior facet and an average of 4.01% articular destruction of the posterior facet of the calcaneus. No damage to the middle facets of the subtalar joint was observed. TTC nailing is a successful procedure for ankle and subtalar joint fusion. Published studies have reported successful subtalar union using TTC nailing without formal open debridement of the subtalar joint, preserving the soft tissue envelope. TTC nail insertion using a 12-mm reamer will destroy 5.89% and 4.01% of the respective talar and calcaneal posterior facets of the subtalar joint.

Keywords: ankle; arthritis; calcaneus; surgical fusion; talus; tibia.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Ankle Fractures / surgery*
  • Arthrodesis / methods*
  • Bone Nails*
  • Cadaver
  • Calcaneus / surgery*
  • Female
  • Fracture Fixation, Intramedullary / methods*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Subtalar Joint / surgery*
  • Talus / injuries
  • Talus / surgery
  • Tibia / surgery*