Does the anteromedial or anterolateral approach alter the rate of joint puncture in injection of the ankle?: A cadaver study

N Heidari, W Pichler, S Grechenig, W Grechenig, A M Weinberg
Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery. British Volume 2010, 92 (1): 176-8
Injection or aspiration of the ankle may be performed through either an anteromedial or an anterolateral approach for diagnostic or therapeutic reasons. We evaluated the success of an intra-articular puncture in relation to its site in 76 ankles from 38 cadavers. Two orthopaedic surgical trainees each injected methylene blue dye into 18 of 38 ankles through an anterolateral approach and into 20 of 38 through an anteromedial. An arthrotomy was then performed to confirm the placement of the dye within the joint. Of the anteromedial injections 31 of 40 (77.5%, 95% confidence interval (CI) 64.6 to 90.4) were successful as were 31 of 36 (86.1%, 95% CI 74.8 to 97.4) anterolateral injections. In total 62 of 76 (81.6%, 95% CI 72.9 to 90.3) of the injections were intra-articular with a trend towards greater accuracy with the anterolateral approach, but this difference was not statistically significant (p = 0.25). In the case of trainee A, 16 of 20 anteromedial injections and 14 of 18 anterolateral punctures were intra-articular. Trainee B made successful intra-articular punctures in 15 of 20 anteromedial and 17 of 18 anterolateral approaches. There was no significant difference between them (p = 0.5 and p = 0.16 for the anteromedial and anterolateral approaches, respectively). These results were similar to those of other reported studies. Unintended peri-articular injection can cause complications and an unsuccessful aspiration can delay diagnosis. Placement of the needle may be aided by the use of ultrasonographic scanning or fluoroscopy which may be required in certain instances.

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