We have entered an era where total ankle arthroplasty (TAA) is accepted as a rational approach for patients with degenerative arthritis of the ankle. TAA results have been shown to be an improvement over arthrodesis in some recent comparative trials.
That was not always the case, however. In the 1980s, the orthopaedic community attacked ankle joint replacement with gusto, and numerous prosthetic designs were introduced with great enthusiasm based on short-term cohort studies. Unfortunately, the concept of TAA was all but buried as disappointing longer-term results with those older prosthetic designs appeared in the scientific literature. It took a full decade for new designs to appear and be subjected to longer-term follow-up studies before surgeons could gain ready access to more reliable instrumentation and prostheses. The producers of these implants behaved responsibly in this regard, facilitated by an FDA approval process that had increased in rigor.
In the December 21, 2016 issue of The Journal, Hofmann et al. publish their medium-term results with one prosthetic design that was FDA-approved in 2006. Implant survival among 81 consecutive TAAs was 97.5% at a mean follow-up of 5.2 years. There were only 4 cases of aseptic loosening and no deep infections in the cohort. Total range of motion increased from 35.5° preoperatively to 39.9° postoperatively.
The fact that a high percentage (44%) of ankles underwent a concomitant procedure at the time of TAA attests to the need for careful preoperative planning for alignment of the ankle joint and the need for thorough assessment of the hindfoot. The fact that a substantial percentage (21%) of ankles underwent another procedure after the TAA attests to the need for thoughtful benefit-risk conversations with patients prior to TAA.
I think the TAA concept and procedure are here to stay, but we still have much work to do in fine-tuning prosthetic designs and instrumentation and enhancing surgeon education for more reliable outcomes.
Marc Swiontkowski, MD
Every 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. Here is a summary of key findings from Level I and II studies cited in the November 18, 2015 Specialty Update on orthopaedic rehabilitation:
- A prospective comparison of patients who received either skilled physical therapy (PT) or a standardized home exercise program after total knee arthroplasty (TKA) found that range of motion and functional outcome were similar in the two groups after two years, but the home program was nearly half the cost of PT.1
- A randomized trial of 198 patients who underwent TKA compared telerehabilitation with face-to-face rehab. After two months, WOMAC and KOOS scores and functional and range-of-motion tests were all noninferior for telerehabilitation.
- A randomized trial of community-dwelling elderly patients who had undergone hip fracture surgery found that an individualized home-based rehab program produced superior functional outcomes, balance, and mobility recovery when compared with a standard, non-structured home exercise program.2
- A claims-data study of 4733 people who underwent hip or knee replacement found a 29% decrease in postoperative acute service utilization among those who had preoperative PT.
- A randomized trial comparing active transcutaneous nerve stimulation (TENS), placebo TENS, and standard care during rehab for TKA found that adding either active or placebo TENS to standard care significantly reduced movement pain in the immediate postoperative period.3
- A randomized study found that in-hospital sling-based range-of-motion therapy had a clinically beneficial effect up to three months after TKA surgery in terms of passive knee flexion range of motion, compared with an in-hospital continuous passive motion protocol.4
- A randomized trial comparing weight-bearing and non-weight-bearing for nonoperative treatment of Achilles tendon ruptures found no significant between-group differences in the Total Rupture Score or heel-rise strength.
- A systematic review and meta-analysis comprising 402 patients who had undergone surgical Achilles tendon repair found that postoperative early weight-bearing and early ankle motion exercises were associated with a lower minor complication rate and greater functional recovery when compared with conventional immobilization.5
- A randomized trial comparing 12 weeks of individualized resistance training to physiotherapy without resistance training in adolescents and young adults with bilateral spastic cerebral palsy found that neither group demonstrated improvements in performance of daily physical activity.6
- A randomized trial of three methods of weight-bearing training (verbal instruction, bathroom scale training, and haptic biofeedback) found that haptic feedback was superior to the other methods at helping patients maintain weight-bearing status.7
Amputation and Prosthetics
- A systematic review of studies comparing rigid versus soft dressings after amputation determined that rigid dressings resulted in significantly shorter time from amputation to fitting of a prosthesis.8
- A randomized trial of phantom pain found that a protocol of progressive muscle relaxation, mental imagery, and phantom exercises yielded more significant reductions in the rate and intensity of phantom pain than a program of standard physical therapy.9
Low Back Pain
- Among patients with low back pain, a three-way randomized trial (standard care, standard care + extensible lumbosacral orthoses, and standard care + inextensible lumbosacral orthoses) found that inextensible lumbar orthoses led to a greater improvement in Oswestry Disability Index scores than the other two approaches.10
- Büker N,,Akkaya S, Akkaya N, Gökalp O, Kavlak E, Ok N, Kıter AE, Kitiş A.Comparison of effects of supervised physiotherapy and a standardized home program on functional status in patients with total knee arthroplasty: a prospective study. J Phys Ther Sci. 2014 Oct;26(10):1531-6. Epub 2014 Oct 28.
- Salpakoski A, Törmäkangas T, Edgren J, Kallinen M, Sihvonen SE, Pesola M,Vanhatalo J, Arkela M, Rantanen T, Sipilä S. Effects of a multicomponent home-based physical rehabilitation program on mobility recovery after hip fracture: a randomized controlled trial. J Am Med Dir Assoc. 2014 May;15(5):361-8. Epub 2014 Feb 20.
- Rakel BA, Zimmerman MB, Geasland K, Embree J, Clark CR, Noiseux NO,Callaghan JJ, Herr K, Walsh D, Sluka KA. Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation for the control of pain during rehabilitation after total knee arthroplasty: A randomized, blinded, placebo-controlled trial. Pain. 2014 Dec;155(12):2599-611.Epub 2014 Sep 28.
- Mau-Moeller A, Behrens M, Finze S, Bruhn S, Bader R, Mittelmeier W. The effect of continuous passive motion and sling exercise training on clinical and functional outcomes following total knee arthroplasty: a randomized active-controlled clinical study. Health Qual Life Outcomes. 2014 May 9;12:68.
- Huang J, Wang C, Ma X, Wang X, Zhang C, Chen L. Rehabilitation regimen after surgical treatment of acute Achilles tendon ruptures: a systematic review with meta-analysis. Am J Sports Med. 2015 Apr;43(4):1008-16. Epub 2014 May 2.
- Bania TA, Dodd KJ, Baker RJ, Graham HK, Taylor NF. The effects of progressive resistance training on daily physical activity in young people with cerebral palsy: a randomised controlled trial. Disabil Rehabil. 2015 Jun 9:1-7. [Epub ahead of print].
- Fu MC, DeLuke L, Buerba RA, Fan RE, Zheng YJ, Leslie MP, Baumgaertner MR, Grauer JN. Haptic biofeedback for improving compliance with lower-extremity partial weight bearing. Orthopedics. 2014 Nov;37(11):e993-8.
- Churilov I, Churilov L, Murphy D. Do rigid dressings reduce the time from amputation to prosthetic fitting? A systematic review and meta-analysis. Ann Vasc Surg. 2014 Oct;28(7):1801-8. Epub 2014 Jun 6.
- Brunelli S, Morone G, Iosa M, Ciotti C, De Giorgi R, Foti C, Traballesi M. Efficacy of progressive muscle relaxation, mental imagery, and phantom exercise training on phantom limb: a randomized controlled trial. Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2015Feb;96(2):181-7. Epub 2014 Oct 23.
- Morrisette DC, Cholewicki J, Logan S, Seif G, McGowan S. A randomized clinical trial comparing extensible and inextensible lumbosacral orthoses and standard care alone in the management of lower back pain. Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2014 Oct 1;39(21):1733-42.