Factors Associated With Nonunion and Infection Following Ankle Arthrodesis Using a Large Claims Database: Who Has Elevated Risk?

Liam H. Wong, Bopha Chrea, James E. Meeker, Jung U. Yoo, Lara C. Atwater

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Complications such as nonunion and infection following ankle arthrodesis can lead to increased patient morbidity and financial burden from repeat operations. Improved knowledge of risk factors can improve patient selection and inform post–ankle arthrodesis surveillance protocols. Methods: This is a large retrospective, database study with structured query of a national insurance claims database (PearlDiver Technologies) for patients treated with ankle arthrodesis from 2015 to 2019 as identified by International Classification of Diseases, Tenth Revision (ICD-10), codes. Patients with any operation 1 year prior to or following ankle arthrodesis were excluded from analysis to prevent attributing complications to another operation. Likelihoods of nonunion and infection within 1 year and 3 years following ankle arthrodesis were analyzed using Kaplan-Meier estimations. Patient characteristics associated with the identified complications following ankle arthrodesis were analyzed using multivariable logistic regression analyses. Results: Our query yielded 2463 patients in the 5-year period who underwent ankle arthrodesis. Nonunion occurred in 11% (95% CI 10-12) of patients within 1 year of ankle arthrodesis and 16% (95% CI 14-17) of patients within 3 years. Infection occurred in 3.9% (95% CI 3.1-4.7) of patients within 1 year of ankle arthrodesis and in 6.2% (95% CI 5.1-7.2) of patients within 3 years. Obese patients increased odds of nonunion on multivariable analysis (OR 1.6, 95% CI 1.3-2.0; P <.001). On multivariable analysis, diabetes (OR 1.7, 95% CI 1.2-2.6; P =.010) and each 1-unit increase in Elixhauser Comorbidity Index scores (OR 1.1, 95% CI 1.1-1.2; P <.001) contributed to increased odds of infection after ankle arthrodesis. Conclusion: Nonunion and infection following ankle arthrodesis have a 3-year probability of 16% and 6%, respectively. More than one-quarter of patients with nonunion following ankle arthrodesis experience a delay in diagnosis beyond 1 year. The risk of post–ankle arthrodesis nonunion is highest in patients with obesity; the risk of post–ankle arthrodesis infection is highest in patients with diabetes or an elevated Elixhauser Comorbidity Index score. Level of Evidence: Level III, prognostic study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalFoot and Ankle Orthopaedics
Volume7
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2022

Keywords

  • arthritis
  • diabetes
  • outcome studies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine

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