Regarding the treatment of ankle arthritis, the choice of arthroscopic ankle arthrodesis (AAA) or open ankle arthrodesis (OAA) remains controversial. To guide clinical decision-making, we conducted a meta-analysis on the optimal treatment of ankle arthrodesis. We identified eligible studies published from June 1, 1969 to June 1, 2020 using the Cochrane Library, PubMed, OVID, Embase, and Medline searched the references of relevant studies. Randomized and non-randomized studies that compared outcomes of AAA and OAA were included. After the methodologic assessment, available data were extracted and statistically reviewed. The primary outcomes were overall complications rate, tourniquet time, length of the hospital stay, non-union rate, and rate to fusion. The secondary outcomes were delayed union and postoperative infection rate. We included 9 studies comparing arthroscopic and open in patients with ankle arthrodesis, comprising 467 participants. AAA had the advantage of demonstrating a lower overall complication rate (odds ratio [OR], 0.44 [95% confidence interval [CI], 0.26-0.73]; p = .002), shorter intraoperative tourniquet time (mean difference [MD], -16.49 [95% CI, -23.51 to -9.46]; p < .001), shorter length of the hospital stay (MD -1.75, 95% CI -1.94 to -1.2, p < .001),lower non-union rate (OR, -0.07 [95% CI, -0.13 to -0.02]; p <.01) and higher rate to fusion (OR, 4.2 [95% CI, 1.96-8.99]; p < .001) in comparison with OAA. Yet, no significant differences were found in delayed union (OR, 0.46 [95% CI, 0.10-2.04]; p = .30) and postoperative infection rate (OR, 0.45 [95% CI, 0.17-1.15]; p = .09) between the groups. Our results suggest that arthroscopic ankle arthrodesis is superior to open ankle arthrodesis alone in the treatment of ankle arthritis based on the overall complication rate, intraoperative tourniquet time, length of the hospital stay, non-union rate and rate to fusion. However, further high-quality randomized controlled trials with appropriate blinding methods are needed to confirm the findings.
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