Joint stability characteristics of the ankle complex after lateral ligamentous injury, part I: a laboratory comparison using arthrometric measurement

John E Kovaleski, Robert J Heitman, Larry R Gurchiek, J M Hollis, Wei Liu, Albert W Pearsall
Journal of Athletic Training 2014, 49 (2): 192-7

CONTEXT: The mechanical property of stiffness may be important to investigating how lateral ankle ligament injury affects the behavior of the viscoelastic properties of the ankle complex. A better understanding of injury effects on tissue elastic characteristics in relation to joint laxity could be obtained from cadaveric study.

OBJECTIVE: To biomechanically determine the laxity and stiffness characteristics of the cadaver ankle complex before and after simulated injury to the anterior talofibular ligament (ATFL) and calcaneofibular ligament (CFL) during anterior drawer and inversion loading.

DESIGN: Cross-sectional study.

SETTING: University research laboratory.

PATIENTS OR OTHER PARTICIPANTS: Seven fresh-frozen cadaver ankle specimens.

INTERVENTION(S): All ankles underwent loading before and after simulated lateral ankle injury using an ankle arthrometer.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE(S): The dependent variables were anterior displacement, anterior end-range stiffness, inversion rotation, and inversion end-range stiffness.

RESULTS: Isolated ATFL and combined ATFL and CFL sectioning resulted in increased anterior displacement but not end-range stiffness when compared with the intact ankle. With inversion loading, combined ATFL and CFL sectioning resulted in increased range of motion and decreased end-range stiffness when compared with the intact and ATFL-sectioned ankles.

CONCLUSIONS: The absence of change in anterior end-range stiffness between the intact and ligament-deficient ankles indicated bony and other soft tissues functioned to maintain stiffness after pathologic joint displacement, whereas inversion loading of the CFL-deficient ankle after pathologic joint displacement indicated the ankle complex was less stiff when supported only by the secondary joint structures.

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