Charcot's neuroarthropathy can have devastating consequences if left untreated or misdiagnosed. With progression of the disease from the acute to the chronic phase, substantial deformity and instability may result, leading to ulceration and a nonfunctional limb. The purpose of this case report is to present a staged reconstruction for active Charcot's neuroarthropathy involving the subtalar joint with complete dislocation that resulted in limb salvage and maintenance of limb function at 1-year follow-up. Although for many patients the mainstay of treatment for early Charcot's neuroarthropathy is conservative care with off-loading, early surgical correction that includes external fixation followed by definitive arthrodesis for select patients may be warranted.
Limb salvage for Charcot's neuroarthropathy has been shown to have high complication and failure rates. The aim of our report of two cases it to present a unique complication encountered with staged limb salvage for Charcot's neuroarthropathy. In two cases, patients developed delayed tibial shaft fracture associated with previous wire placement despite insertion of locked intramedullary nail fixation that spanned the delayed fracture. Both patients experienced fractures following advancement of weight after definitive fixation. In both patients, there was noted complication with the sites of the pins and revision of external fixation before fracture. In each case, the fracture was within the construct of the intramedullary fixation and successfully treated with an extended course of nonweightbearing. Complications of external fixation and intramedullary fixation are well reported within the literature; however, tibia fracture is rare. Based on these cases, it would seem prudent to recognize the risk of delayed pin-site complications and ensure adequate length of intramedullary fixation to span the potential areas of stress.
Retrograde intramedullary nailing for tibiotalocalcaneal arthrodesis (TTCA) is used for severe hindfoot deformities, end-stage arthritis, and limb salvage. The procedure is technically demanding, with complications such as infection, hardware failure, nonunion, osteomyelitis, and possible limb loss or death. This study reports the outcomes and complications of patients undergoing TTCA with a femoral nail, which is widely available and offers an extensive range of lengths and diameters.
We performed a retrospective review of 104 patients who underwent 109 TTCAs using a femoral nail as the primary procedure (January 2006 through December 2016). Demographic data, risk factors, and outcomes were evaluated.
At final follow-up, the overall clinical union rate was 89 of 109 (81.7%). Diabetes mellitus was negatively associated with limb salvage (P = .03), and peripheral neuropathy (P = .02) and Charcot's neuroarthropathy (P = .03) were negatively associated with clinical union. Only four patients (3.8%) underwent proximal amputation, at an average of 6.1 months, and 11 patients (10.6%) died, at a mean of 38.0 months. The most common complication was ulceration in 27 of 109 limbs (24.8%), followed by infection in 25 (22.9%). Twenty-three patients (22.1%) underwent revision procedures, at a mean of 9.4 months. Thirteen of these 23 patients (56.5%) had antibiotic cement rod spacers/rods for deep infection–related complications.
Use of a femoral nail has been shown to provide similar outcomes and limb salvage rates compared with other methods of TTCA reported for similar indications in the literature.