Outcomes of Joint Preservation Surgery in Valgus Ankle Arthritis Without Deltoid Ligament Insufficiency

Background: To date, information about the role of proximal alignment correction in treating nontraumatic valgus ankle arthritis is limited. This study aimed to report outcomes of realignment surgery, including supramalleolar correction in valgus arthritic ankles without evidence of deltoid ligament insufficiency.

Methods: Thirteen patients (13 ankles) who underwent joint preservation surgery for valgus ankle arthritis without evidence of deltoid ligament insufficiency were reviewed. Medial opening wedge supramalleolar osteotomy (n = 11) and varization supramalleolar dome osteotomy (n = 2) were performed to realign the hip-knee-ankle-hindfoot axis. Concomitant hindfoot correction was accompanied with either medial displacement calcaneal osteotomy (n = 8) or subtalar arthrodesis (n = 5). Pain, functional outcome (Foot Function Index [FFI]), radiographic arthritis grade (grades 0-4), 9 plain radiographic parameters, and 2 weightbearing computed tomography parameters were evaluated pre- and postoperatively. All patients completed a minimum 2-year follow-up.

Results: Preoperatively, 10 ankles (77%) demonstrated a varus tibial plafond, and 3 ankles (23%) demonstrated a valgus or neutral tibial plafond. Postoperatively, radiographic arthritis grade improved in all except 1 patient, and the mean talar tilt angle improved from 5.5 to 1.7 degrees. The mean pain score (visual analog scale) decreased significantly from 7.3 to 2.5 (P < .05), and the mean FFI improved significantly from 57.7 to 18.6 (P < .001). None of the patients underwent conversion to joint-sacrificing procedures at the latest follow-up.

Conclusion: This study demonstrated a possible relationship between lower limb malalignment and valgus ankle arthritis. Realignment surgery, including supramalleolar osteotomies, which straightens the mechanical axis and decreases the slope of the tibial plafond, may be a reasonable approach in joint preservation of valgus ankle arthritis without deltoid ligament insufficiency.

Level of evidence: Level IV, case series.

Keywords: alignment; ankle arthritis; joint preservation surgery; realignment; supramalleolar osteotomy; valgus ankle arthritis.