What is the prognosis of Charcot arthropathy?

Updated: Jun 21, 2018
  • Author: Mrugeshkumar Shah, MD, MPH, MS; Chief Editor: Vinod K Panchbhavi, MD, FACS  more...
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Outcomes for Charcot arthropathy are based on immediate diagnosis and treatment. A more favorable outcome is elicited when joints are treated within 2 weeks of injury and when there is strict adherence to weightbearing precautions.

Location of the disease also affects outcome. Forefoot arthropathies heal in less time than midfoot, hindfoot, or ankle arthropathies, as the following list illustrates:

  • Ankle - Mean healing time, 83 ± 22 days
  • Hindfoot - Mean healing time, 97 ± 16 days
  • Midfoot - Mean healing time, 96 ± 11 days
  • Forefoot - Mean healing time, 55 ± 17 days

Surgical treatment prolongs healing time. The extent of the injury also affects healing time. The more severe the injury, the longer it takes to heal and the greater the likelihood of permanent deformity. It generally takes 1-2 years to completely heal a Charcot joint, from the active phase to quiescence.

Stark et al performed a 5-year retrospective analysis of 50 patients presenting to a tertiary foot clinic with acute Charcot neuroarthropathy, with the aims of (1) determining whether the initial immobilization approach (total-contact casting [TCC] or use of a removable offloading device) influenced time to resolution, (2) determining the relapse rate after TCC use, and (3) determining whether neuroarthropathy location influenced time to resolution. [8]  Of the 50 patients, 42 went into remission; 36 were treated with both TCC and removable offloading, five with removable offloading only, and one with TCC only.

Median time to resolution for patients initially treated with TCC was 48 weeks, compared with 53 weeks for those initially treated with a removable offloading device; however, the difference was not significant (P = 0.7681). [8] A relapse rate of 34.9% was noted for patients who were treated with TCC at any point. The location of the neuroarthropathy did not have a significant effect on time to resolution in this study.

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