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Arthroscopic Debridement of the Ankle for Mild to Moderate Osteoarthritis: a Midterm Follow-up Study in Former Professional Soccer Players


Background: The aim of this study is to report the clinical and functional outcomes following arthroscopic
management of anterior impingement, grade III–IV cartilage lesions, and mild to moderate osteoarthritis of the
ankle in former soccer players.

Methods: The study included 15 former male professional soccer players with mild to moderate degenerative
changes of the ankle who had undergone arthroscopic debridement and management of secondary injuries of the
ankle. Preoperatively and at the last follow-up, at an average of 7.4 years, the American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle
Society (AOFAS) and the Kaikkonen scales and visual analogue scale (VAS) assessment were administered to all
patients. Ankle osteoarthritis was assessed from weightbearing anteroposterior and lateral radiographs of both ankles.

Results and discussion: At the last follow-up, the average AOFAS score had increased significantly from 48 (range, 29–69) to 86 (range, 63–94) (P < 0.0001), with good to excellent scores in 11 patients (74 %). The average Kaikkonen preoperative score of 43 (range, 28–70) had significantly improved to 85 (range, 61–95) (P < 0.0001), with good excellent scores in 11 patients (74 %). VAS values were also improved at the last follow-up. At the last appointment, only one (7 %) patient had abandoned altogether any sport, as he did not feel safe with his ankle and he felt too old to continue.

Conclusions: Anterior ankle arthroscopy for management of mild to moderate ankle arthritis is safe, effective, and low cost and allows former athletes to safely return to ordinary daily activities and recreational sport activities.


Leonardo Osti, Angelo Del Buono and Nicola Maffulli
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