Open talus fractures are notoriously difficult to manage, and they are commonly associated with a high level of complications including non-union, avascular necrosis and infection. Currently, the management of such injuries is based upon BOAST 4 guidelines although there is no suggested definitive management, and thus, definitive management is based upon surgeon preference. The key principles of open talus fracture management which do not vary between surgeons are early debridement, orthoplastic wound care, anatomic reduction and definitive fixation whenever possible. However, there is much debate over whether the talus should be preserved or removed after open talus fracture/dislocation and proceeded to tibiocalcaneal fusion.
A review of electronic hospital records for open talus fractures from 2014 to 2021 returned fourteen patients with fifteen open talus fractures. Seven cases were initially managed with ORIF, and five cases were definitively managed with FUSION, while the others were managed with alternative methods. We collected patient’s age, gender, surgical complications, surgical risk factors and post-treatment functional ability and pain and compliance with BOAST guidelines. The average follow-up of the cohort was 4 years and one month. EQ-5D-5L and FAAM-ADL/Sports score was used as a patient reported outcome measure. Data were analysed using the software PRISM.
Comparison between FUSION and ORIF groups showed no statistically significant difference in EQ-5D-5L score (P = 0.13), FAAM-ADL (P = 0.20), FAAM-Sport (P = 0.34), infection rate (P = 0.55), surgical times (P = 0.91) and time to weight bearing (P = 0.39), despite a higher proportion of polytrauma and Hawkins III and IV fractures in the FUSION group.
FUSION is typically used as second line to ORIF or failed ORIF. However, there is a lack of studies that directly compared outcome in open talus fracture patients definitively managed with FUSION or ORIF. Our results demonstrate for the first time that FUSION may not be inferior to ORIF in terms of patient functional outcome, infection rate and quality of life, in the management of patients with open talus fracture patients. Of note, as open talus fractures have increased risks of complications such as osteonecrosis and non-union, FUSION should be considered as a viable option to mitigate these potential complications in these patients.