BACKGROUND: Surgical management of ankle fractures will be an increasing part of the orthopaedic practice for aging adults. To date, there are few studies comparing outcomes after ankle fracture surgery between patients over and under 65 years. The purpose of this study was to evaluate short- and long-term outcomes after surgical treatment of isolated malleolar fractures in both the elderly and non-elderly population.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: Charts and radiographs were reviewed for 25 patients over age 65 and 46 patients under age 65 who underwent operative treatment of an ankle fracture during a 2-year period. Postoperative complications and need for placement in a skilled nursing facility following discharge were noted. The SF-36 and the Olerud and Molander Ankle Score were completed. Mean duration of followup in patients greater than 65 was 27 months and 24 months for patients less than or equal to 65 years.
RESULTS: Patients over 65 had a higher number of postoperative complications (40% vs. 11%, p < 0.007), and required nursing home placement more frequently than patients under 65 (p < 0.0001). At long-term followup, the data showed no significant difference in patient reported physical outcomes.
CONCLUSION: Early postoperative outcomes after operative fixation of ankle fractures suggest significantly worse outcomes for patients over age 65. However, long-term function in the elderly was comparable to patients under age 65 in this sample. The elderly population had a significantly better mental composite score than the non-elderly.