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Use Data, Guidelines, and Intuition to Manage Infection after Toe/Forefoot Amputation

Osteomyelitis for OBuzzThe number of articles published each year in orthopaedics that evaluate infections seems to approach, if not exceed, 1,000. Yet, despite all of these publications, consensus statements, and guidelines, we seem to have very few concrete recommendations about which every surgeon will say, “This is what needs to be done.” So we send out samples, run cultures, sonicate implants, and sometimes even perform DNA sequencing, and then we mix the data with selected recommendations and intuition to make our final treatment decisions. Foolproof? No, but it is the best we can do in many situations.

The article by Mijuskovic et al. in the September 5, 2018 edition of The Journal helps simplify this type of decision making in the setting of residual osteomyelitis after toe or forefoot amputation. The authors evaluated 51 consecutive patients with gangrene and/or infection who underwent either digit or partial foot amputations. They found that, after surgery, 41% of the patients without histological evidence of osteomyelitis (which the authors considered the reference, “true positive” analysis) had a positive culture from the same sample.  In addition, only 12 patients (24%) had both positive histological findings and positive cultures, the criteria set forth by the Infectious Disease Society of America for the definitive diagnosis of osteomyelitis.

As interesting as the main findings of the study are, some of the “minor” results are even more curious.  The decision regarding which patients received antibiotics after amputation seemed largely arbitrary, with 10 of the 14 patients who had a positive histological result not receiving any postoperative antibiotics. (Five of those patients ended up needing a secondary procedure.) In addition, because of the need for decalcification prior to analysis, the median time to receiving histological results was almost a week. Based on the findings in this study, in many instances patients are sent home or to a rehabilitation facility with antibiotics based only on the results of a potentially “false-positive” culture.

The authors conclude that their results “cast doubt on the strategy of relying solely on culture of bone biopsy specimens when deciding whether antibiotic treatment for osteomyelitis is necessary after toe or forefoot amputation.” But this paper also highlights the fact that we are still looking for definitive answers about which data to use and which to disregard when it comes to the detection and treatment of post-amputation osteomyelitis. We surgeons decide on which side to err, and we need to appreciate all three facets—data, guidelines, and patient factors—when discussing treatment options with patients.

Chad A. Krueger, MD
JBJS Deputy Editor for Social Media

JBJS 100: Talar Neck Fractures, Knee Cartilage Repair

JBJS 100Under one name or another, The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery has published quality orthopaedic content spanning three centuries. In 1919, our publication was called the Journal of Orthopaedic Surgery, and the first volume of that journal was Volume 1 of what we know today as JBJS.

Thus, the 24 issues we turn out in 2018 will constitute our 100th volume. To help celebrate this milestone, throughout the year we will be spotlighting 100 of the most influential JBJS articles on OrthoBuzz, making the original full-text content openly accessible for a limited time.

Unlike the scientific rigor of Journal content, the selection of this list was not entirely scientific. About half we picked from “JBJS Classics,” which were chosen previously by current and past JBJS Editors-in-Chief and Deputy Editors. We also selected JBJS articles that have been cited more than 1,000 times in other publications, according to Google Scholar search results. Finally, we considered “activity” on the Web of Science and The Journal’s websites.

We hope you enjoy and benefit from reading these groundbreaking articles from JBJS, as we mark our 100th volume. Here are two more:

Fractures of the Neck of the Talus
L G Hawkins: JBJS, 1970 July; 52 (5): 991
This article, richly illustrated with radiographs, reports on >1-year results from 43 patients treated after sustaining a vertical fracture of the neck of the talus. Hawkins introduced a 3-group classification system based on the initial radiographic appearance of the fracture, and he provided an in-depth discussion of the complication of avascular necrosis.

Autologous Chondrocyte Implantation and Osteochondral Cylinder Transplantation in Cartilage Repair of the Knee Joint
U Horas, D Pelinkovic, G Herr, T Aigner, R Schnettler: JBJS, 2003 February; 85 (2): 185
In the 15 years since this paper appeared in JBJS, nearly 800 articles have been published that have “autologous chondrocyte implantation” (ACI) in their title. This study—replete with histologic, biopsy-specimen, and electron microscopy images—compared 2-year results among 40 patients who had received either ACI or autologous osteochondral transplants for knee cartilage defects. Both treatments decreased symptoms, but the authors concluded that “the improvement provided by the [ACI] lagged behind that provided by the osteochondral cylinder transplantation.” For more current information on these cartilage-repair techniques, see the JBJS Clinical Summary on Knee Cartilage Injuries.

Casting Is Effective for Recurrence Following Ponseti Treatment of Clubfoot

Up to 40% of patients with idiopathic clubfoot who are treated with the Ponseti method experience recurrence of deformity. https://bit.ly/2IuVOm1

Related video from JBJS Essential Surgical Techniques.

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Linking Registry and Claims Data—Not as Boring as it Sounds

TAA for OBuzzIt is not often that The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery publishes an article about data-linkage efforts. To even raise the topic with most readers of The Journal would elicit a yawn and quick dismissal of the abstract without a second thought. With this fact duly noted, the possibility of linking health-system joint-replacement registries with Medicare claims data is a first step in a potentially game-changing approach to achieving the long-term clinical research our specialty needs.

In the June 20, 2018 issue of JBJS, Raman et al. detail their successful linkage of a total ankle arthroplasty (TAA) registry with Medicare data without the use of unique patient identifiers.  Among 280 TAA patients over the age of 65, 250 had their registry data linked with their Medicare record with exact matches for date of procedure, date of birth, and sex. Of the linked records, 214 (76.4%) had ≥3 years of postoperative claims data.

Why are these findings so important? The answer is follow-up. Every clinician and/or researcher who has attempted to follow patients beyond the first year after a procedure understands how difficult long-term follow-up is. We live in a mobile society in which informative posttreatment data is easily lost. The younger the patient group, the more difficult it usually is to locate patients as time passes. If patients are doing well, many stop coming to our offices, no matter how strongly we recommend annual follow-ups. Everyone is busy—including retirees—and most have better things to do than drive to their surgeon’s office or even complete a web-based questionnaire. Additionally, some patients care only about their own outcomes; they are not as focused as we are on contributing to the advancement of the profession and improving outcomes at the population level.

By linking patient data from  a local health-system registry to nationwide claims data, we can gain a better understanding of long-term patient progress. We can use the patient- and implant-specific data housed in the registry and essentially substitute the information from follow-up visits that did not take place within the registry system with the data contained within the Medicare system, which follows beneficiaries wherever they live.

The marriage of registry and claims data is not perfect, though, because patients who are still working probably have private insurance coverage that is not captured by the Medicare system. (Of course, if universal coverage were to come to pass, that issue would be eliminated.) Furthermore, any time claims data are used, uncertainty about the accuracy of coding must be considered. These real-world limitations notwithstanding, the linkage of registry data with claims data does have great potential for enhancing our ability to analyze—and improve—long-term orthopaedic outcomes.

Marc Swiontkowski, MD
JBJS Editor-in-Chief

Bunion Treatments Abound Amid Multiple Etiologies

Bunionectomy for OBuzzOrthoBuzz occasionally receives posts from guest bloggers. This guest post comes from Shahriar Rahman, MS, in response to a recent study in Foot and Ankle Clinics of North America.

It makes sense that orthopaedic conditions with multiple etiologic factors have a corresponding variety of treatment options. So it is with hallux valgus (bunion deformity). In the June 2018 edition of Foot and Ankle Clinics of North America, Smyth and Aiyer1 focus on the pathoanatomy of hallux valgus and various approaches to selecting an operative option.

With more than 100 different operative procedures described to correct hallux valgus, it can be challenging to pick the “right” procedure for each patient. The etiology of hallux valgus includes intrinsic factors (e.g., a long first metatarsal, the shape of the metatarsal head, and soft-tissue imbalances across the hallux metatarsophalangeal [MP] joint) and extrinsic factors (e.g., high-heeled, narrow toe-box shoes). Other kinematic factors of the foot, such as hypermobility of the first ray, are associated with hallux valgus, as is pes planus (flatfoot). Whatever the etiology, hallux valgus almost always progresses in a relatively predictable manner.1

Careful preoperative analysis is required to successfully treat hallux valgus, with the goal of restoring static and dynamic balance around the first MP joint. For optimum outcomes, a soft-tissue procedure (e.g., modified McBride procedure) is now commonly combined with osseous corrective techniques. The chevron osteotomy, which has been modified in multiple ways, achieves acceptable outcomes with reportedly high patient satisfaction levels, as does a percutaneous distal metatarsal osteotomy.2

More severe deformities are usually treated with proximal first metatarsal osteotomies—such as  a proximal chevron, Ludloff osteotomy, or Scarf osteotomy—to increase the possible angular correction of the metatarsal. While these procedures are more “powerful” correction options, some studies have shown recurrence rates up to 30% at 10 years of follow up.1,2 In cases of severe deformity accompanied by arthritis of the tarsometatarsal (TM) joint, a modified Lapidus procedure may be an option for stabilizing the first TM joint. Hallux MP arthrodesis is also considered in patients who have severe deformity, arthritis, and neuromuscular disorders, and for the revision of a previously failed hallux valgus surgery.

There is currently no consensus as to which procedure is the gold standard for treating hallux valgus. Despite multiple comparative studies assessing the outcomes of different techniques, the decision ultimately depends on surgeon and patient preferences.

Shahriar Rahman, MS is a consultant orthopaedic surgeon at the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare in Bangladesh and a member of the JBJS Social Media Advisory Board.

References

  1. Smyth NA & Aiyer AA 2018, ‘Introduction: Why Are There so Many Different Surgeries for Hallux Valgus?’, Foot and Ankle Clinics, 23, no.2, pp.171-182.
  2. Adams SB, 2017, JBJS Clinical Summary: Hallux Valgus (Bunion Deformity), viewed 27 may 2018, https://jbjs.org/summary.php?id=188

Related Articles from JBJS Essential Surgical Techniques

What’s New in Foot & Ankle Surgery 2018

foot-ankle-for-obuzz.jpegEvery month, JBJS publishes a Specialty Update—a review of the most pertinent and impactful studies published in the orthopaedic literature during the previous year in 13 subspecialties. Click here for a collection of all OrthoBuzz Specialty Update summaries.

This month, OrthoBuzz asked Sheldon Lin, MD, a co-author of the May 16, 2018 Specialty Update on Foot and Ankle Surgery, to select the five most clinically compelling findings from among the 60 studies cited in the article.

Ankle Arthroscopy
—A recent Level-I study1 investigated the efficacy of preemptive local anesthesia in combination with general or spinal anesthesia in 80 patients undergoing ankle arthroscopy. The authors found that patients receiving local anesthesia did not require any on-demand pain medication and reported lower pain intensity up to 24 hours post-arthroscopy. Patients in the spinal anesthesia-only group had better pain control than did patients receiving general anesthesia only.

Hallux Rigidus
—While arthrodesis of the first metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joint is the preferred treatment for this condition among most providers, concerns over medial column lengthening and degenerative changes at adjacent joints have led to continued interest in MTP arthroplasty. In a 15-year follow-up of 52 patients randomized to MTP joint arthrodesis or arthroplasty2, Stone et al. found that those who underwent arthrodesis had less pain, fewer revisions, and greater satisfaction than those in the arthroplasty group, with equal function scores. On the basis of these data, arthrodesis remains the treatment of choice for severe hallux rigidus.

Total Ankle Arthroplasty (TAA)
—In a prospective study of 451 patients with an average follow-up of 4.5 years, Lefrancois et al. compared clinical and functional outcomes of 4 TAA prostheses: the HINTEGRA implant, the Agility implant, the Mobility implant, and the Scandinavian Total Ankle Replacement (STAR). Patients with the Mobility implant had less improvement in scores on the Ankle Osteoarthritis Scale, while the other 3 implants had comparable results.

—In a matched cohort study of more than 3,000 patients examining the complication rates of TAA versus those of arthrodesis, Odum et al. found that patients undergoing arthrodesis had a 1.8-times higher risk of a major perioperative complication than those undergoing TAA.

Plantar Fasciitis
—In a randomized controlled trial of 50 patients investigating the efficacy of botulinum toxin for treating plantar fasciitis3, Ahmad et al. found that patients in the botulinum toxin group had improved function and pain scores compared with the placebo group at 6 and 12 months post-injection, as well as a lower rate of surgical treatment for recalcitrant symptoms (0% versus 12%).

References

  1. Liszka H, Gądek A. Preemptive local anesthesia in ankle arthroscopy. Foot Ankle Int. 2016 Dec;37(12):1326-32. Epub 2016 Sep 12.
  2. Stone OD, Ray R, Thomson CE, Gibson JNA. Long-term follow-up of arthrodesis vs total joint arthroplasty for hallux rigidus. Foot Ankle Int. 2017 Apr;38(4):375-80. Epub 2016 Dec 20.
  3. Ahmad J, Ahmad SH, Jones K. Treatment of plantar fasciitis with botulinum toxin. Foot Ankle Int. 2017 Jan;38(1):1-7. Epub 2016 Oct 1.

JBJS 100: Knee Hemarthrosis and Achilles Ruptures

JBJS 100Under one name or another, The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery has published quality orthopaedic content spanning three centuries. In 1919, our publication was called the Journal of Orthopaedic Surgery, and the first volume of that journal was Volume 1 of what we know today as JBJS.

Thus, the 24 issues we turn out in 2018 will constitute our 100th volume. To help celebrate this milestone, throughout the year we will be spotlighting 100 of the most influential JBJS articles on OrthoBuzz, making the original content openly accessible for a limited time.

Unlike the scientific rigor of Journal content, the selection of this list was not entirely scientific. About half we picked from “JBJS Classics,” which were chosen previously by current and past JBJS Editors-in-Chief and Deputy Editors. We also selected JBJS articles that have been cited more than 1,000 times in other publications, according to Google Scholar search results. Finally, we considered “activity” on the Web of Science and The Journal’s websites.

We hope you enjoy and benefit from reading these groundbreaking articles from JBJS, as we mark our 100th volume. Here are two more:

Arthroscopy in Acute Traumatic Hemarthrosis of the Knee
F R Noyes, R W Bassett, E S Grood, D L Butler: JBJS, 1980 July; 62 (5): 687
This paper was among the first to identify the high rate of serious knee injuries among patients with acute traumatic hemarthrosis (ATH). Noyes’ paper showed that 72% of knees with ATH also had some degree of ACL injury. While orthopaedists generally no longer use knee arthroscopy as a diagnostic tool in the setting of ATH, because of this article, they often order MRI when patients present with this acute knee injury.

Operative versus Nonoperative Treatment of Acute Achilles Tendon Ruptures
K Willits, A Amendola, D Bryant, N Mohtadi, J R Giffin, P Fowler, C O Kean, A Kirkley: JBJS, 2010 December 1; 92 (17): 2767
This multicenter randomized trial was not the first to compare surgical treatment of Achilles tendon ruptures with nonoperative treatment that included early functional range of motion, but it confirmed that in patients treated nonoperatively, early functional treatment is preferable to cast immobilization. Since this paper was published, more than 20 studies investigating Achilles tendon ruptures have been published in JBJS, emphasizing that the search goes on for treatment protocols—surgical and nonoperative—that are effective and relatively free of complications.

Concomitant Ankle Osteoarthritis Is Related to Increased Ankle Pain and a Worse Clinical Outcome Following Total Knee Arthroplasty

Occasionally, patients experience new or increased ankle pain following total knee arthroplasty (TKA). https://bit.ly/2IkLoGD #JBJS  #JBJSVideoSummaries

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Innovation + Persistence: A Crucial Combination

In the 1970s and 80s, the debate regarding management of clubfoot deformity centered around the location of incisions and how aggressive to be with open releases of hindfoot joints. At that time, Prof. Ignacio Ponseti had been working on his conservative method of clubfoot correction for decades, but his technique was relegated to the sidelines and dismissed as being out of the main stream. Yet he persisted in carefully documenting his results, quietly perfecting his methods, and disseminating his technique by teaching other practitioners. Ever so slowly, the pediatric orthopaedic community migrated in his direction as the complications of the other aggressive surgical procedures, including stiff and painful feet, became apparent.

In the May 2, 2018 edition of The Journal,  Zionts et al. report medium-term results from their center with Ponseti’s method. This is a very important study because most of the previously published data regarding mid- to long-term outcomes had come from Dr. Ponseti’s medical center.

The authors found that all 101 patients in the study treated with the Ponseti method had fair to good outcomes at a mean follow-up of 6.8 years. Nevertheless, >60% of the parents reported noncompliance with the bracing recommendations; almost 70% of patients had at least one relapse; and 38% of all patients eventually required an anterior tibial tendon transfer. Increased severity of the initial deformity, occurrence of a relapse, and a shorter duration of brace use were all associated with worse outcomes.

Taken as a whole, the results of this study are comparable to those presented by Ponseti and others from his institution. Even though the Zionts et al. investigation was also  a single-center study, the findings are important considering the widespread use of his technique and limited “external” data confirming the validity of this method.

Dr. Ponseti created and refined a highly impactful technique that yields good outcomes in patients with a difficult problem. Although it took decades for his methods to be widely accepted, the lesson here is that what wins the day are careful documentation, thoughtful attention to how best to teach a method, and persistence in the face of skepticism.

Marc Swiontkowski, MD
JBJS Editor-in-Chief