Hallux rigidus is a common cause of foot pain in the elderly and has a negative impact on quality of life. Several operative treatment options are available for feet that are refractory to conservative treatment. Of these, total joint replacement and arthrodesis of the first metatarsophalangeal joint are the most commonly performed interventions. Nevertheless, it is still not known which intervention results in the best clinical outcome and the fewest complications.
PubMed/MEDLINE, Embase, and the Cochrane Library were systematically searched for studies assessing outcome with the American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society-Hallux Metatarsophalangeal Interphalangeal (AOFAS-HMI) score, Foot Function Index (FFI), visual analog scale (VAS) for pain, or Short Form-36 (SF-36) in patients who underwent an arthrodesis or total joint replacement for the treatment of symptomatic hallux rigidus. Secondary outcomes were complications and revision rates. The screening of titles and abstracts, data collection, data extraction, and study quality assessment were performed independently by 2 reviewers. Study quality was determined with use of risk-of-bias tools. Results of included studies were presented in a qualitative manner, and the results of high-quality studies were pooled.
Thirty-three studies, describing a total of 741 arthrodeses and 555 total joint replacements, were included in the qualitative analysis. Six different prostheses were used for total joint replacement, and various fixation techniques were used for arthrodesis. The results of 6 arthrodesis studies and 7 total joint replacement studies were pooled in the quantitative analysis. Pooled results showed superiority of arthrodesis compared with total joint replacement for improving clinical outcome (by 43.8 versus 37.7 points on the AOFAS-HMI score) and reducing pain (a decrease of 6.56 versus 4.65 points on the VAS pain score). Because of the rare reporting of the FFI and SF-36, no comparison could be made for these outcomes. Fewer intervention-related complications (23.1% versus 26.3%) and revisions (3.9% versus 11%) were reported after arthrodesis as compared with total joint replacement, with pain and nonunion and prosthetic loosening being the most commonly reported complications after arthrodesis and total joint replacement, respectively.
The present systematic review of the literature indicated that arthrodesis is superior for improving clinical outcome and reducing pain, and is less often accompanied by intervention-related complications and revisions, compared with total joint replacement in patients with symptomatic hallux rigidus. Prospective, randomized controlled trials will need to be conducted to verify this conclusion.
Therapeutic Level IV. See Instructions for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.
1Department of Orthopaedics, Maastricht University Medical Centre, Maastricht, the Netherlands
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