Medium- and long-term outcomes of surgical reconstruction in acute Charcot neuroarthropathy
A. Patel, M. Sivaprakasam, I. Reichert, R. Ahluwalia, V. Kavarthapu
1King's College Hospital NHS Trust, Diabetic Foot Department, London, United Kingdom
Introduction: Charcot neuroarthropathy (CN) of foot and ankle presents significant challenges to the orthopaedic foot and ankle surgeon. Current treatment focuses on conservative management during the acute CN phase with offloading followed by deformity correction during the chronic phase. However, the deformity can progress in some feet despite optimal offloading resulting ulceration, infection, and limb loss. Our aim was to assess outcomes of primary surgical management with early reconstruction.
Methods: Between December 2011 and December 2019, 25 patients underwent operative intervention at our specialist diabetic foot unit for CN with progressive deformity and or instability despite advanced offloading. All had peripheral neuropathy, and the majority due to diabetes. Twenty-six feet were operated on in total - 14 during Eichenholtz stage 1 and 12 during stage 2. Fourteen of these were performed as single stage procedures, whereas 12 as two-stage reconstructions. These included isolated hindfoot reconstructions in seven, midfoot in four and combined in 14 feet. Mean age at the time of operation was 54. Preoperative ulceration was evident in 14 patients.
Results: Mean follow up was 45 months (Range 12-98). There was 100% limb salvage. One-year ambulation outcomes demonstrate FWB in bespoke footwear for 17 patients and in an ankle foot orthosis (AFO), Charcot restraint orthopaedic walker (CROW) or bivalve cast for seven. All preoperative ulceration had healed. Union was achieved in 18/21 hindfoot reconstructions and 7/18 midfoot reconstructions. There were nine episodes of return to theatre, of which five were within the first 12 months. There was one episode of new ulceration.
Conclusion: Surgical management of acute CN (Eichenholtz one and two) of the foot provides functional limb salvage. In particular, hindfoot reconstruction shows good rates of bony union. It should be considered in ‘foot at risk’ presentations of acute CN foot.
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