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Fresh Ankle Osteochondral Allograft Transplantation for Tibiotalar Joint Arthritis

Foot Ankle Int. 2005 Oct;26(10):793-802
Meehan R, McFarlin S, Bugbee W, Brage M


BACKGROUND: Conventional treatment for tibiotalar joint arthritis relies on arthrodesis or prosthetic arthroplasty. Fresh osteochondral allografting is an alternative procedure to replace diseased articular cartilage.
METHODS: Eleven patients (average age 43 years; range 18 to 65 years) had fresh osteochondral grafting of the tibiotalar joint. The diagnoses were posttraumatic arthritis in seven ankles, osteoarthritis in two, and an osteochondral defect in two. Precise cuts were made using the Agility (DePuy, Warsaw IN) ankle arthroplasty jigs. Bipolar replacements were used in nine ankles and unipolar in two. Results were evaluated using outcome scores, physical examinations, and standing ankle radiographs.
RESULTS: At a minimum followup of 24 (average 33; range 26 to 45) months, six of the 11 ankles had successful grafting procedures. The average AOFAS score preoperatively improved from 55 to 73 postoperatively (p = 0.01). The patients’ pain, gait, and walking surface scores were all significantly improved (p < 0.05). Of the five failures three underwent successful repeat allografting and one was revised to a total ankle arthroplasty, and one has had no further surgery. The ankle range of motion arc was 30 degrees or more in six ankles. Additional surgery included five talofibular joint debridements, three repeat graftings, two hardware removals, and one conversion to a prosthetic ankle replacement. There was one intraoperative fibular fracture and one superficial wound infection. The serum of 10 patients tested positive for cytotoxic HLA antibodies postoperatively. Radiographs revealed moderate and severe joint degeneration in six ankles; however, this did not necessarily correlate with a poor outcome. Poor results tended to occur in ankles with a graft-host size mismatch or graft thickness of less than 7 mm.
CONCLUSION: Fresh osteochondral transplantation for tibiotalar joint arthritis is a promising alternative to arthrodesis and prosthetic replacement. Early results demonstrate successful outcomes and good pain relief in over half the patients in this series.

Copyright © 2005 (Foot Ankle Int. Oct;26(10):793-802) by the American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society, Inc., originally published in Foot & Ankle International, and reproduced here with permission.