While adjacent joint arthritis is a recognized long-term downside of primary tibiotalar arthrodesis (TTA), few studies have identified risk factors for early subtalar arthrodesis (STA) after TTA. This study aims to identify the risk factors for STA within the first few years following TTA. All patients older than 18 years undergoing TTA between 2008 and 2016 were identified retrospectively. Demographic data and comorbidities were collected alongside prior operative procedures, postoperative complications, and subsequent STA. Pre-and postoperative Kellgren-Lawrence osteoarthritis grade of the subtalar joint and postoperative radiographic alignment were obtained. A total of 240 patients who underwent primary TTA were included in this study with median follow up of 13.8 months. Twenty patients (8.3%) underwent STA after TTA due to symptomatic nonunion of TTA in 13 (65%), progression of symptomatic subtalar osteoarthritis (OA) in 4 (20%), and symptomatic nonunion of primary TTA combined progressively symptomatic subtalar OA in 2 (10%). Preoperative radiographic subtalar OA severity and postoperative radiographic alignment were not correlated with subsequent STA. Diabetes mellitus, Charcot arthropathy, neuropathy, alcohol use, substance use disorder, and psychiatric disease were significantly associated with having a subsequent STA. The most common postoperative contributing factor for subsequent STA following primary TTA was the salvage of symptomatic ankle nonunion rather than subtalar joint disease. Patients considering an ankle fusion should be counseled of the risk of subsequent STA, especially if they have risk factors that include diabetes, Charcot arthropathy, neuropathy, alcohol use, substance use disorder, or psychiatric disease.
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Published online: April 09, 2022
Funding: This research did not receive any specific grant from funding agencies in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.
Conflicts of Interests: The authors declare no potential conflicts of interest with respect to the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.
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