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Open Access Research article

Bohler’s angle’s role in assessing the injury severity and functional outcome of internal fixation for displaced intra-articular calcaneal fractures: a retrospective study

Yanling Su, Wei Chen, Tao Zhang, Xingwang Wu, Zhanpo Wu and Yingze Zhang*

Author Affiliations

Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, the Third Hospital of Hebei Medical University, Shijiazhuang, Hebei 050051, PR China

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BMC Surgery 2013, 13:40  doi:10.1186/1471-2482-13-40

Published: 24 September 2013

Abstract

Background

Controversy exits over the role of Böhler’s angle in assessing the injury severity of displaced intra-articular calcaneal fractures and predicting the functional outcome following internal fixation. This study aims to investigate whether a correlation exists between Böhler’s angle and the injury severity of displaced calcaneal fractures, and between surgical improvement of Böhler’s angle and functional outcome.

Methods

Patients treated operatively for unilateral closed displaced intra-articular calcaneal fractures from January 1, 2004 to March 31, 2008 were identified. The Böhler’s angles of both calcaneus were measured, and the measurement of the uninjured foot was used as its normal control. The difference in the value of Böhler’s angle measured preoperatively or postoperatively between the angle of the injured foot and that of the contralateral calcaneus were calculated, respectively. The change in Böhler’s angle by ratio was calculated by dividing the difference value of Böhler’s angle between bilateral calcaneus by its normal control. The injury severity was assessed according to Sanders classification. The functional outcomes were assessed using American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society hindfoot scores.

Results

274 patients were included into the study with a mean follow-up duration of 71 months. According to Sanders classification, the fracture pattern included 105 type II, 121 type III and 48 type IV fractures. According to American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society hindfoot scoring system, the excellent, good, fair and poor results were achieved in 104, 132, 27, and 11 patients, respectively. The preoperative Böhler’s angle, difference value of Böhler’s angle between bilateral calcaneus, and change in Böhler’s angle by ratio each has a significant correlation with Sanders classification (rs=−0.178, P=0.003; rs=−0.174, P=0.004; rs=−0.172, P=0.005, respectively), however, is not correlated with functional outcome individually. The three postoperative measurements were all found to have a significant correlation with American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society hindfoot scores (rs=0.223, P<0.001; rs=0.224, P<0.001; rs=0.220, P<0.001, respectively). However, these correlations were all weak to low.

Conclusions

There was a significant correlation between preoperative Böhler’s angle and the injury severity of displaced intra-articular calcaneal fractures, but only postoperative Böhler’s angle parameters were found to have a significant correlation with the functional recovery.

Keywords:
Calcaneus; Displaced intra-articular fracture; Böhler’s angle; Functional outcome; Sanders classification