Research Article| Volume 62, ISSUE 2, P304-309, March 2023

Anterior Ankle Incision Healing Complications With and Without Tourniquet Use: A Retrospective Comparative Cohort Study

Published:August 14, 2022DOI:


      Anterior ankle incisions and tourniquet use in foot and ankle surgery have both been associated with increased incidence of incisional healing complications. Although a tourniquet is commonly used for procedures such as total ankle replacement and ankle arthrodesis that utilize an anterior ankle incision, it is possible to avoid tourniquet use while preserving adequate visualization with atraumatic layered dissection and closure, appropriate use of electrocautery, and ligation of vessels as needed. The primary aim of this study is to report rates of anterior ankle incisional healing complications both with and without tourniquet use. A retrospective chart review was performed on consecutive patients undergoing total ankle replacement or ankle arthrodesis through a multi-provider foot and ankle surgery practice between 2013 and 2018. A total of 121 patients, 58 (47.9%) in the tourniquet group and 63 (52.1%) in the no-tourniquet group, were included in this study with a median follow-up period of 36 (range 2-96) months. There was a higher rate of incisional healing complications for the tourniquet group (5.2%) compared to the no-tourniquet group (3.2%), however this did not reach statistical significance (p = .670). There was no significant difference in operative time between the tourniquet and no-tourniquet group (p = .405). The overall incisional healing complication rate was 4.1%. Although avoiding tourniquet use alone does not appear to significantly reduce anterior ankle incisional healing complications, the described technique has yielded an overall lower rate of incisional complications compared to those commonly reported in the literature.

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