BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders BMC series 2017 18:96

Ankle joint distraction arthroplasty for severe ankle arthritis

Yang Xu, Yuan Zhu and Xiang-yang Xu


Ankle distraction arthroplasty is one option for the treatment of severe ankle arthritis in young patients. The outcomes and factors predicting success in distraction arthroplasty are poorly understood.


From January 2011 to May 2015, 16 patients who had undergone ankle distraction arthroplasty for ankle arthritis were operated, including six males and ten females. All patients were available for analysis. The main outcome measurements included joint space on weight bearing radiographs, AOFAS-AH scores (American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society ankle-hindfoot score), VAS scores and SF-36 scores.


All 16 patients were followed for a mean follow-up of 40.9 ± 14.7 months (range, 17–67 months). Fourteen of the 16 patients still had their native ankle joints. One patient had undergone ankle arthrodesis 1 year after the operation and one patient had converted to spontaneous ankle fusion at the 3 years follow-up postoperative. The VAS score improved from 5.9 ± 0.8 to 3.7 ± 2.2 (p = 0.0028). The mean AOFAS-AH score improved from 41.9 ± 7.2 preoperatively to 68.1 ± 20.0 postoperatively (p = 0.001). The mean SF-36 score improved from 43.1 ± 7.6 preoperatively to 62.7 ± 18.8 postoperatively (p = 0.002). A weight-bearing ankle space larger than 3 mm at 1 year following distraction is a positive predictive factor.


In this study, the treatment of ankle motion distraction for end stage ankle arthritis showed benefit in 9/16 (56.25%) patients at 41 months. It is a promising method for young patients with severe ankle arthritis.

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