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Comparison of Complications for Internal and External Fixation for Charcot Reconstruction: A Systematic Review

      Abstract

      The surgical reconstruction of Charcot deformity can be a challenge for foot and ankle surgeons. Consensus is lacking among surgeons regarding the best method of surgical fixation to be used in reconstruction, and clear strong evidence is also lacking in published studies. We undertook a systematic review of electronic databases and other relevant sources in an attempt to better understand the complications and outcomes associated with internal and external fixation for Charcot foot and ankle reconstruction. A total of 23 level 4 studies with 616 procedures were identified. Of these, 12 studies with 275 procedures used internal fixation, and 11 studies with 341 procedures used external fixation. The odds of a successful outcome with internal fixation was 6.86. The odds of a successful outcome with external fixation was 13.20 (odds ratio 0.52, 95% confidence interval 0.30 to 0.90). The odds of success for internal fixation was 0.52 times as likely as the odds of success with external fixation. Because the odds ratio did not include 1, this difference was statistically significant at the p < .05 level. An identified trend was that external fixation was used more often in cases deemed to be difficult by the surgeon preoperatively. These findings could prove helpful to foot and ankle surgeons when making decisions regarding fixation for Charcot reconstruction.

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