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Arthroscopic Treatment of Osteochondral Lesions of the Distal Tibia

Foot Ankle Int. 2007 Aug;28(8):865-872
Mologne TS, Ferkel RD


BACKGROUND: Osteochondral lesions of the tibia are much less frequent than those of the talus, and treatment guidelines have not been established. We hypothesized that arthroscopic treatment methods used for osteochondral lesion of the talus would also be effective for those of the distal tibia.
METHODS: A review of 880 consecutive ankle arthroscopies identified 23 patients (2.6%) with osteochondral lesions of the distal tibia. Four patients were excluded because of concomitant acute ankle fractures requiring open reduction and internal fixation and two were lost to followup, leaving 17 in the study. The mean age was 38 (19 to 71) years. Six (35%) had osteochondral lesions of the tibia and talus; 11 had isolated lesions of the distal tibia. Treatment included excision, curettage, and abrasion arthroplasty in all patients. Five patients had transmalleolar drilling of the lesion, two had microfracture, and two had iliac bone grafting. At last followup, patients were evaluated with a questionnaire, physical examination, and ankle radiographs.
RESULTS: Mean followup was 44 (24 to 99) months. Preoperatively, the median American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society (AOFAS) Ankle-Hindfoot score was 52; postoperatively, it was 87. Using the Wilcoxon signed-rank test to compare preoperative and postoperative scores, there was significant improvement in the ankle-hindfoot score postoperatively (p < 0.001). Seven patients had excellent results, seven had good results, one had a fair result, and two had poor results.
CONCLUSIONS: Osteochondral lesions of the distal tibia present a challenge to the orthopedic surgeon. Arthroscopic treatment by means of debridement, curettage, abrasion arthroplasty, and, in some patients, transmalleolar drilling, microfracture, or iliac crest bone grafting, resulted in excellent and good results in 14 of 17 patients at medium-term followup.

Copyright © 2007 (Foot Ankle Int. Aug;28(8):865-872) by the American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society, Inc., originally published in Foot & Ankle International, and reproduced here with permission.