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Clinical outcome and changes in gait pattern after pilon fractures

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Axial burst fractures of the distal tibia are challenging to treat and often lead to restricted function of the lower limb. The purpose of this study was to investigate the clinical outcome and changes in gait pattern in such patients.


Thirty-five patients in a level 1 trauma centre were followed up clinically and by gait analysis. The American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society (AOFAS), visual analogue scale (VAS) foot and ankle scale and Phillips scores were applied. Dynamic pedography (emed-M; Novel, Germany) with analyses of load, pressure and force-time integral were undertaken to investigate possible changes in gait pattern.


Mean follow-up was 50 (19–100) months. Mean AOFAS, VAS foot and ankle and Phillips scores were 65, 63 and 55 points, respectively. There were clear correlations between fracture severity in the Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Osteosynthesefragen (AO) classification and functional outcome in AOFAS (−0.63; p < 0.01), VAS foot and ankle scale (−0.56; p < 0.01) and Phillips (−0.64; p < 0.01) scores. There was a high correlation of 0.74 (p < 0.01) between the severity of the injury in the AO-classification and onset of post-traumatic arthrosis. Dynamic pedography revealed lesser load bearing for the total foot, medial foot, heel, first metatarsal and medial forefoot for the affected limb, and increased load bearing was seen in the lateral midfoot region.


Fractures of the tibial pilon lead to restricted function of the lower limb. Clinical outcome correlates with fracture severity in the AO classification, the onset of post-traumatic arthrosis and changes in gait patterns.

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The authors are grateful to Dr. Sabine Karl of the Institute of Mathematics at the University of Wuerzburg for her help and advice on statistics.

Conflict of interest statement

The study was conducted in compliance with the current laws applying in Germany. None of the authors has any conflicts of interest.

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Correspondence to Hendrik Jansen.

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Jansen, H., Fenwick, A., Doht, S. et al. Clinical outcome and changes in gait pattern after pilon fractures. International Orthopaedics (SICOT) 37, 51–58 (2013).

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