June 1st, 2011 , Foot Ankle Int

Calcaneal traction pin placement simplified: a cadaveric study


The tibial neurovascular bundle and sural nerve are at risk with errant pin placement during transcalcaneal pin placement. The purpose of this study was to determine a relative safe zone using a single osseous landmark to establish a technique applicable in the presence of trauma. We describe the neural anatomy anatomically and radiographically, giving surgeons a reliable and relatively safe technique for transcalcaneal pin placement.


Twenty-four cadavers were dissected for the major medial neurovascular structures and the sural nerve. The closest distance from the neurovascular structures to the posterior inferior calcaneus was measured.


The mean distance from the posterior inferior calcaneus to the closest major medial neurovascular structure was 3.4 cm (SD ± 0.36; range, 2.6 to 4.1 cm). The mean distance to the sural nerve was 3.4 cm (SD ± 0.54; range, 2.3 to 4.6 cm). According to the 95% confidence intervals, a relative safe zone of 3.1 cm as a radius from the posterior inferior calcaneus was determined.


A relatively safe zone of 3.1 cm based on 95% confidence intervals as described as a radius from the posterior inferior calcaneus can be used for transcalcaneal pin placement in most cases without injury to the medial neurovascular bundle or sural nerve. However anatomic variation may result in the neurovascular bundle being within this zone.


We describe a surgical technique for reliable placement of a transcalcaneal pin within this relative safe zone and a safe distance from the closest neurovascular structure.