Total calcanectomy for the treatment of chronic calcaneal osteomyelitis

Judith F. Baumhauer, Carlos J. Fraga, John S. Gould, Jeffrey E. Johnson

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64 Scopus citations


The purpose of this study is to present the surgical and functional results of a total calcanectomy procedure as a foot salvage alternative in patients with extensive chronic osteomyelitis of the calcaneus. A retrospective review identified eight patients treated with a total calcanectomy for a chronic nonhealing plantar ulcer of the heel and osteomyelitis of the calcaneus. The primary diagnosis was insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (six patients), pneumococcal septicemia (one patient), and an open calcaneal fracture (one patient). The average age of the patients was 52 years. Prior procedures included irrigation and debridement of the heel ulcer (seven patients), partial calcanectomy (three patients), and split thickness skin grafting (two patients). The vascular status of each limb was assessed preoperatively. Distal extremity bypass surgery was performed on two patients before calcanectomy. Osteomyelitis of the calcaneus was diagnosed by magnetic resonance imaging alone in three patients, and by technetium/indium scans and magnetic resonance imaging in five patients. The average follow-up duration was 27.3 months (range, 6-57 months). Infection at the plantar heel was controlled in all patients. In all eight cases the incision were closed primarily. During a prolonged time of total contact casting to facilitate wound healing, one patient developed an anterior tibial ulcer that progressed to osteomyelitis and underwent below-knee amputation. Talonavicular subluxation occurred as a late complication in one patient. This was treated with a talonavicular arthrodesis and subsequent bracing for a nonunion. An assessment of functional ambulation was performed on all eight patients. Four patients maintained the same ambulation level postoperatively in a modified heel-containment orthosis. Two patients decreased one functional ambulation level, and one patient decreased two levels. One patient underwent below- knee amputation and is currently ambulatory with a prothesis. Assessment of ankle strength and range of motion of the surgical limb demonstrated decreased dorsiflexion and plantarflexion strength and a variable range of motion compared to the contralateral limb. Total calcanectomy is an alternative procedure to transtibial amputation in patients with chronic osteomyelitis of the calcaneus. Eradication of infection and preservation of the functional ambulation is achieved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)849-855
Number of pages7
JournalFoot and Ankle International
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1998


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