Early vs Delayed Weightbearing After Microfracture of Osteochondral Lesions of the Talus: A Prospective Randomized Trial

J. Banks Deal, Jeanne C. Patzkowski, Adam T. Groth, Paul M. Ryan, Thomas C. Dowd, Patrick M. Osborn, Claude D. Anderson, James R. Ficke, Kevin L. Kirk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Osteochondral lesions of the talus (OLTs) are common injuries in young, active patients. Microfracture is an effective treatment for lesions less than 150 mm2 in size. Most commonly employed postoperative protocols involve delaying weightbearing for 6 to 8 weeks (DWB), though one study suggests that early weightbearing (EWB) may not be detrimental to patient outcomes. The goal of this research is to compare outcomes following EWB and DWB protocols after microfracture for OLTs. Methods: We performed a prospective, randomized, multicenter clinical trial of subjects with unilateral, primary, unifocal OLTs treated with microfracture. Thirty-eight subjects were randomized into EWB (18 subjects) and DWB (20 subjects) at their first postsurgical visit. The EWB group began unrestricted WB at that time, whereas the DWB group were instructed to remain strictly nonweightbearing for an additional 4 weeks. Primary outcome measures were the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgery (AAOS) Foot and Ankle score and numeric rating scale (NRS) pain score. Results: The EWB group demonstrated significant improvement in AAOS Foot and Ankle Questionnaire scores at the 6-week follow-up appointment as compared to the DWB group (83.1 ± 13.5 vs 68.7 ± 15.8, P =.017). Following this point, there were no significant differences in AAOS scores between groups. At no point were NRS pain scores significantly different between the groups. Conclusions: EWB after microfracture for OLTs was associated with improved AAOS scores in the short term. Thereafter and through 2 years’ follow-up, no statistically significant differences were seen between EWB and DWB groups. Level of Evidence: Level II, prospective randomized trial.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalFoot and Ankle Orthopaedics
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2019


  • ankle arthroscopy
  • early weightbearing
  • osteochondral lesions of the talus
  • rehabilitation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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