Dramatic improvements in medical treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) have led to marked reductions in joint damage and deformities. Consequently, surgical methods for treating RA-related foot problems have gradually evolved from joint-sacrificing to joint-preserving procedures. In a recent issue of The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery, Yano et al. reported on outcomes of 105 feet in RA patients treated with joint-preserving methods followed up for a mean of 6 years.
What the Researchers Did:
- Performed a proximal rotational closing-wedge osteotomy of the first metatarsal and modified shortening oblique osteotomies of the lesser metatarsals
- Recorded Self-Administered Foot Evaluation Questionnaire (SAFE-Q) scores preoperatively and at latest follow-up
- Measured hallux valgus angle (HVA), intermetatarsal angle (IMA), and medial sesamoid position before surgery, 3 months after surgery, and at the latest follow-up
- Tracked delayed wound healing, hallux valgus recurrence, nonunion, and reoperations
- Calculated Kaplan-Meier survivorship with reoperation as the endpoint
What the Researchers Found:
- Surgery was associated with significantly improved median SAFE-Q scores, relative to preoperative values.
- The average HVA, IMA, and grade of medial sesamoid positioning decreased significantly, compared with preoperative measurements.
- Kaplan-Meier survivorship at 7 years was 89.5%.
- Delayed wound healing was found in 20% of the feet (all wounds healed with nonoperative treatment), hallux valgus recurrence in 10.5% of the feet, and reoperation in 10.5% of the feet.
Yano et al. emphasize several advantages of joint-sparing over joint-sacrificing surgery: preserved range of motion, stability of the metatarsophalangeal joint, and improved plantar-pressure distribution. However, these advantages and the “satisfactory” long-term outcomes noted above come with substantial complications that foot-and-ankle surgeons will strive to address in the future.