Ankle and foot injuries: analysis of MDCT findings

Ville V Haapamaki, Martti J Kiuru, Seppo K Koskinen
AJR. American Journal of Roentgenology 2004, 183 (3): 615-22

OBJECTIVE: The purpose of our study was to assess MDCT findings and the advantages of MDCT compared with radiography in patients referred to a level 1 trauma center for diagnostic evaluation of acute ankle and foot trauma.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: During a period of 37 months, 388 patients underwent MDCT of the ankle and foot due to an acute trauma. Imaging studies (MDCT and radiography) were retrospectively reevaluated with respect to fracture location, fracture type, and mechanism of injury, and findings from the primary radiographs of the ankle and foot were compared with MDCT findings.

RESULTS: Of the 388 patients, 344 (89%) had one or more fractures in the ankle or foot. A total of 517 fractures were found in all anatomic regions: ankle, calcaneus, talus, midfoot, and forefoot. The three most common occult fractures in the ankle not detected on primary radiography were isolated fractures of the posterior and medial malleolus and Tillaux fractures. The calcaneus was the most commonly fractured bone, and the sensitivity of radiography in the detection of calcaneal fractures was 87%. The sensitivity of radiography in the detection of talar fractures was 78%, whereas it was only 25-33% in the detection of midfoot fractures. A Lisfranc fracture-dislocation was not detected on primary radiography in five (24%) of 21 cases. The three main injury mechanisms were falling from a height (164 patients [48%]), a simple fall (68 patients [20%]), and a traffic accident (47 patients [14%]).

CONCLUSION: In patients with injuries from high-energy polytrauma and in those with complex ankle and foot fractures, the sensitivity of radiography is only moderate to poor; in these cases, MDCT is recommended as the primary imaging technique.

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