INTRODUCTION: Ankle fusion is still considered as an established therapy for end-stage ankle osteoarthritis. To determine exact description of postoperative functioning, it is necessary to consult a variety of functional scores and quality of life questionnaires.
METHODS/PATIENTS: 34 patients with 34 ankle fusions were investigated on average 5.9 years postoperatively by functional tests and health-related quality of life questionnaires (AOFAS hindfoot score [AOFAS: American Orthopaedic Foot/Ankle Society], Foot Function Index [FFI], Lower Extremity Functional Scale [LEFS], Lower Extremity Activity Scale [LEAS], Visual Analogue Scale Foot/Ankle Surgery [VAS FA], Short Form 36 [SF-36], EuroQol 5D [EQ-5D]).
RESULTS: After ankle fusion: the majority of cases gain pain reduction, but residual symptoms may persist; the maximum walking distance (subjectively more than objectively) will be extended; rarely walking without any aids can be achieved; in most cases, the gait pattern is only slightly changed; the re-entry into working life is often possible; climbing stairs without any restrictions is not always possible; the psychological situation will be equalized with that of healthy people.
CONCLUSION: The results of the study confirm the success rates of ankle fusions in the majority of cases. Well defined limitations and residual symptoms can be named on the basis of the available data.