Tibiotalocalcaneal arthrodesis is a salvage procedure for various end-stage foot and ankle pathologic entities. Several factors are known to influence the union rate after these procedures, including construct rigidity. The data on locked plates as a fixation technique have been inconclusive, with variable union rates reported. One recent study suggested that locking plates can lead to high nonunion rates owing to excessive rigidity. The purpose of the present study was to retrospectively examine the outcomes of locking plate fixation. We retrospectively reviewed the cases of 15 patients (7 [46.7%] male, 8 [53.3%] female) who underwent tibiotalocalcaneal, tibiocalcaneal, or tibiotalar arthrodesis fixed with a locking plate from January 2013 to January 2014. The average age was 52.19 ± 5.8 years. The mean follow-up period was 17 ± 5.3 months. We examined the overall union rates and the effects of smoking, diabetes, and rheumatologic status on the union rate. Of the 15 cases, 11 (73.3%) did not achieve union. The mean time to failure was 10 ± 5.3 months. Age, gender, smoking, diabetes, use of augmentation screws outside the plate, and operating surgeon did not have an effect on the failure rate (p > .50). In addition, gender, smoking, and diabetes did not predict for nonunion. The high failure rate of rigid locking plate fixation reported might be attributable to the high incidence of smoking and diabetic comorbidities in our study. However, excessive construct rigidity might play an important role. Larger studies are needed to establish more reliable union rates with the use of locking plates in foot and ankle fusion.
Level of Clinical Evidence
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Financial Disclosure: None reported.
Conflict of Interest: None reported.
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