Overview of a Talus Fracture
This injury is typically associated with high impact injury to the lower leg. When involving the lateral process of the talus it is referred to as a snowboarders fracture. Snowboarder fractures are often missed and treated as an ankle sprain. The talus is an important bone as it creates multiple joints in the foot/ankle; the ankle joint, the subtalar joint and the talonavicular joint. These fractures need proper evaluation as an injury to the talus can take longer to heal than other bones and can create avascular necrosis of the talus.
Symptoms of a Fractured Talus
Traumatic injury will result in acute pain and swelling within the foot/ankle. Most often patients will have difficulty placing weight on the leg. Some patients will be treated first as an ankle sprain but will not be able to progress and follow the standard expectation for that injury. When this occurs further evaluation is needed.
Diagnostic Testing for a Snowboarders Fracture
Our physicians will perform an extensive physical examination including x-rays. If a fracture is suspected and not obvious on x-ray and MRI or CT scan will be ordered. In some situations where a known fracture will need surgical fixation these test will be performed to help assist with a surgical planning.
Treatment for a Talus Fracture
Non-Surgical Care of a Fractured Talus
In situations where the fracture is minimally displaced or when medical conditions limit the feasibility of surgical intervention, non-operative treatment will be recommended. Treatment will require 6-8 weeks of immobilization in a cast with no weight on the injured leg.
Surgical Care for a Talus Fracture
Surgical intervention is recommended for most displaced fractures of the talus. The goal of surgical intervention is to restore anatomic alignment of the talus and surrounding bones. Fixation is completed with screws or a plate and screw construct. In some cases, a bone graft may be necessary in order to restore the original anatomical structure.
Post-Operative Care for a Fracture Talus
Following surgery to repair a fractured talus, a period of immobilization is necessary. The patient is typically non-weight bearing for 6-12 weeks. During the recovery period, our team will conduct thorough follow-up using MRI scanning or X-rays to make sure the bones are healing properly and that the natural blood supply is returning to the affected area. Occasionally, the bone does not heal appropriately leading to a serious condition called avascular necrosis or osteonecrosis which puts the bones at risk for collapsing. Only time will tell how the injury will recover and if arthritis or osteonecrosis will develop. If this occurs, our team will work to develop a treatment plan for the associated symptoms.