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.