Arthroscopic Repair of Chronic Plantar Plate Tears of the First Metatarsophalangeal Joint: A New Surgical Technique With Patient Outcomes

Orthop J Sports Med. 2022 Dec 23;10(12):23259671221137558. doi: 10.1177/23259671221137558. eCollection 2022 Dec.


Background: Most plantar plate tears of the first metatarsophalangeal joint can be treated successfully by nonoperative means. Primary repair may be indicated to restore continuity of the plantar structures and joint stability. Inadequate or failed nonoperative treatment may cause persistent pain and disability and thereby represent a career-threatening injury to an athlete. The chronic plantar plate tears are difficult both to diagnose and to treat. When surgical treatment is indicated, traditionally a wide plantar or 2 parallel incisions are used. An arthroscopic approach allows for verification and visualization of the injury and, at the same time, repair of the injury.

Purpose: To describe findings of plantar plate tears, present a new arthroscopic procedure for plantar plate tear repair, and present the outcomes after surgery.

Study design: Case series; Level of evidence, 4.

Methods: This was a retrospective study on the first 10 patients treated with the arthroscopic technique. The patients underwent surgery between June 2017 and January 2021. Patient data, clinical symptoms and findings, and operative details were obtained from the patient records. Patients were contacted via email to complete patient-reported outcome measures (Manchester Oxford Foot Questionnaire [MOxFQ] and Numeric Rating Scale [NRS] for pain).

Results: Four female and 6 male patients with a median age of 24 years (range, 12-44 years) were operated on at a median of 20 months (range, 2-38 months) after injury. Of the 10 patients, 8 had a hyperextension injury of the first metatarsophalangeal joint and 7 had a subtle valgus malalignment of the hallux; 8 patients were injured during sport activity. All patients reported plantar pain at pushoff. All but 1 patient returned to the same level of preinjury activity within 6 months. At a median of 29 months (range, 7-49 months) after surgery, the median MOxFQ score was 6 (range, 0-41) and the median NRS pain score was 0.

Conclusion: Arthroscopic plantar plate repair of chronic plantar plate tears resulted in a high rate of return to activity/sport and excellent outcome scores.

Keywords: arthroscopic repair; first metatarsophalangeal joint; hallux; metatarsophalangeal joint sprain; plantar plate; sport; turf toe.