A calcaneal fracture is a break of the calcaneus (heel bone). Symptoms may include pain, bruising, trouble walking, and deformity of the heel. It may be associated with breaks of the hip or back.
It usually occurs when a person lands on their feet following a fall from a height or during a motor vehicle collision. Diagnosis is suspected based on symptoms and confirmed by X-rays or CT scaning.
Signs and symptoms The most common symptom is pain over the heel area, especially when the heel is palpated or squeezed. Patients usually have a history of recent trauma to the area or fall from a height. Other symptoms include: inability to bear weight over the involved foot, limited mobility of the foot, and limping. Upon inspection, the examiner may notice swelling, redness, and hematomas. A hematoma extending to the sole of the foot is called "Mondor Sign", and is pathognomonic for calcaneal fracture. The heel may also become widened with associated edema due to displacement of lateral calcaneal border. Involvement of soft tissue (tendons, skin, etc.,) should be evaluated because soft tissue injury has been associated to serious complications
Diagnosis A fractured calcaneus as seen on x-rays and CT scans is usually the initial assessment tool when a calcaneal fracture is suspected. A CT scan is currently the imaging study of choice for evaluating calcaneal injury and has substituted conventional radiography in the classification of calcaneal fractures.
Treatment Non-surgical treatment is for extra-articular fractures and some intra-articular fractures. Physicians may choose to perform closed reduction with or without fixation (casting), or fixation alone (without reduction), depending on the individual case. Recommendations include no weight-bearing for a few weeks followed by range-of-motion exercises and progressive weight bearing for a period of 2–3 months.
Displaced intra-articular fractures require surgical intervention within 3 weeks of fracture, before bone consolidation has occurred. Conservative surgery consists of closed reduction with percutaneous fixation. This technique is associated with less wound complications, better soft tissue healing (because of less soft tissue manipulati) and decreased intraoperative time. However, this procedure has increased risk of inadequate calcaneal bone fixation, compared to open procedures. Currently, open reduction with internal fixation (ORIF) is usually the preferred surgical approach when dealing with displaced intra-articular fractures. Newer, more innovative surgical techniques and equipment have decreased the incidence of intra- and post-operative complications.