Arthrodesis definition & procedure

The arthrodesis is used for smaller toes of the foot as well as the first toe. The surgeon will remove bone and damaged cartilage from the  joint. Unlike a ‘replacement arthroplasty‘, where an artificial spacer can be incorporated into the space once where the bone had been removed, the arthrodesis create no space. 

All joints are left stiff with a small amount of shortening. The procedure is useful for correcting hammer toes and hallux valgus as well as hallux rigidus. You can read a new series on the stiff toe and arthrodesis revision procedures from July 2021 on this site.

Because no movement is created footwear previously used may have to be discarded and replaced. In lesser toes an arthrodesis commonly causes the end of the toe to bend because the long tendon overpowers the tip of the toe. Patients can expect to have screws, pins and plates inserted into the bone and joint to allow earlier recovery.

Smaller toe joints

In the lesser toes, procedures often will use pins (Kirchner wires) that protrude from the end of the digit which are protected by a cap. Removal is undertaken in outpatients at 4-6 weeks unless the pin loosens when it may be removed earlier. The purpose of the arthrodesis is to restore a toe after resolving a hammer toe or mallet toe deformity. Pressure from corns can be relieved.

Arthrodesis can be used for a wider range of procedures in the foot and elsewhere in the body.  Arthrodesis is also performed by foot surgeons in the midfoot and hind foot 

Thanks for reading ‘Arthrodesis definition & procedure’
by David R Tollafield

Published by Busypencilcase Communications Ltd Est 2015

Issued June 2020