Rail External Fixation for Stabilization of Closing Base Wedge Osteotomies and Lapidus Procedures: A Retrospective Analysis of Sixteen Cases

      This is a retrospective study of 16 cases of proximal first-ray procedures with rail external fixation. Arthrodesis of the first metatarsal-cuneiform joint was performed on 11 feet, and a closing base-wedge osteotomy was performed on 5 feet. Heel weightbearing in a surgical shoe with ankle joint mobilization was the standard postoperative protocol. Thirteen women and one man with an average age of 41 years (range, 16-64 years) were evaluated, with an average follow-up of 15.12 months (range, 10-24 months). The mean duration of frame application among all patients was 6.75 weeks (range, 2-10 weeks; 7 weeks for the base wedge procedures; 6.64 weeks for the lapidus). Multiple complications developed. Ten patients developed pin-tract infections: 5 required isolated pin removal, whereas 2 required removal of the entire frame because of the severity of infection. Seven patients developed pin loosening. Two patients developed cellulitis requiring long-term intravenous antibiotic therapy. Two nonunions occurred, both with the lapidus procedure, and one was symptomatic. Ten of the 16 patients reported they would have surgery again. Monolateral external rail fixation in combination with heel weightbearing and ankle mobilization demonstrated a high complication rate when used for proximal first-ray procedures. The technique as described is not recommended for routine use with the lapidus and base wedge osteotomy procedures.

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