Arthrodesis of the Hindfoot

What is a Hindfoot Arthrodesis?

When the joints between the small talar bones in the foot are causing pain or have become severely deformed, a fusion operation ('arthrodesis') may be required to stabilise the foot.

Joints that form the hindfoot include:

  • Subtalar & talonavicular joints - the talus is the key bone linking the ankle to the foot. It has a number of joints with other bones in the foot.
  • Calcaneocuboid Joints - the calcaneus is the bone that forms the heel. The cuboid is a small bone directly in front of the calcaneus.

Fusion operations involve placing screws or plates across joints so that the bones grow together to form a single effective unit. This is a very effective method of relieving pain, straightening and stabilising the foot. In the foot, doctors and surgeons will often refer to double and triple arthrodesis - this simple refers to the number of joints that are fused.

It can take many weeks or months for the bones to fuse after an arthrodesis, and during this period the foot needs to be protected in a plaster cast and boot. It is important that you pre-plan and pre-arrange any help you will need with everyday tasks to make your recovery period as easy as possible. You may also be assisted by physiotherapists and occupational therapists who will:

  • Assess you for an appropriate mobility aid (e.g. crutches or zimmer frame)
  • Teach your how to walk and do the stairs without putting your operated leg to the floor
  • Assess your home

The disadvantage of fusion is that all movement in the fused joints is lost. When the hindfoot is fused the ability to twist the foot in or outwards (inversions and eversion) is decreased or lost altogether. This can make walking on uneven ground and running more difficult.

28 September, 2011