Comparison of Surgical Outcomes of Intra-Articular Calcaneal Fractures by Age

Gaskill, Trevor; Schweitzer, Karl; Nunley, James
December 2010
Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery, American Volume;12/15/2010, Vol. 92-A Issue 18, p2884
Academic Journal
Background: Internal fixation is an accepted treatment for displaced fractures of the calcaneus. Operative intervention in older patients, however, is traditionally discouraged in the literature. The purpose of this study was to compare the outcomes of internal fixation of intra-articular fractures of the calcaneus on the basis of patient age. Methods: One hundred and seventy-five patients (191 fractures) who underwent internal fixation between 1992 and 2007 for a displaced, intra-articular calcaneal fracture were identified. The American Society of Anesthesiologists score, the fracture pattern, and the mechanism of injury were recorded. Each patient was contacted to complete a follow-up survey from which clinical outcome scores were calculated. One hundred and forty-six patients with 158 fractures were available for follow-up and were divided into two groups for comparison. Group I consisted of 108 fractures in patients who were less than fifty years old. Group II was composed of fractures in fifty patients who were fifty years of age or older. Results: The mean duration of follow-up was 8.98 years. The average patient age was thirty-six years for Group I and fifty- eight years for Group II. The average adjusted American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society score was 64 for Group I and 75 for Group II. The mean calcaneal fracture scoring system score was 66 for Group I, and 76 for Group II. Similarly, the average Foot Function Index was 24 and 15 for Groups I and II, respectively. Each clinical outcome measure suggests significantly better outcomes for Group II as compared with Group I (all p < 0.05). Overall, the complication rates were similar between groups. Conversion to subtalar fusion was 15% for Group I and 8% for Group II. Conclusions: In this series, outcomes of older patients are at least equivalent to those of younger patients undergoing internal fixation for an intra-articular calcaneal fracture. Operative intervention appears to be a reasonable option for displaced calcaneal fractures in older patients. Physiologic age should be considered when evaluating older patients, and individualized treatment plans remain critical because patients with low physical demands or who have medical complications may be better candidates for nonoperative treatment. Prospective studies are needed in this area.


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