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Epidemiology, management, and outcome of sport-related ankle fractures in a standard UK population.

BACKGROUND: The literature on the outcome of sport-related ankle fractures has focused on operatively managed fractures, despite a large proportion being treated nonoperatively. We describe the epidemiology, management, and outcome of acute sport-related ankle fractures in a UK population.

METHODS: All sport-related ankle fractures sustained during 2007 to 2008 in the Lothian Population were prospectively collected when patients attended the only adult orthopaedic service in Lothian. Fractures were classified using the Lauge Hansen and the Pott's Classification. The presence of fracture displacement was also recorded. Patients were contacted in February 2011 to ascertain their progress in return to sport.

RESULTS: Ninety-six sport-related ankle fractures were recorded in 96 patients. Eighty-four fractures (88%) were followed up at a mean interval of 36 months (range, 30-42). Most common associated sports were soccer (n = 49), rugby (n = 15), running (n = 5), and ice skating (n = 3). The mean time for return to sport was 26 weeks (range, 4-104), the return rate to sport 94%, and the persisting symptom rate 42%. Fifty-two fractures (all nondisplaced) were managed nonoperatively-43 isolated lateral malleolar (30 Weber B, 13 Weber A), 2 isolated medial malleolar, 7 bimalleolar. Forty-four fractures were managed operatively-42 were displaced (2 isolated lateral malleolar, 3 isolated medial malleolar, 18 bimalleolar equivalent, 9 bimalleolar, 3 trimalleolar equivalent, 7 trimalleolar), 2 were un-displaced (2 trimalleolar). The mean times for return to sport were 20 weeks (range, 4-52) for the nonoperative cohort (NOC) and 35 weeks (range, 8-104) for the operative cohort (OC) (P < .001), the return rates to sport were 100% for NOC and 87% for OC (P < .016), and the persisting symptom rates were 17% for NOC and 71% for OC (P < .001).

CONCLUSIONS: Nondisplaced ankle fractures in athletes were successfully managed with nonoperative care. They had greater return rates to sport, quicker return times, and lower persisting symptom rates but had less severe injuries.

LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Level III, retrospective comparative study.

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