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Prevalence and associated factors of intra-articular lesions in acute ankle fractures evaluated by arthroscopy and clinical outcomes with minimum 24-month follow-up

Xing-Zuo Chen, Ying Chen, Qian-Zheng Zhu, Li-Qiang Wang, Xiao-Dong Xu, Peng Lin
Chinese Medical Journal 2019 August 5, 132 (15): 1802-1806
31335476

BACKGROUND: Acute ankle fractures can lead to high rate of concomitant intra-articular lesions which may compromise clinical results. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the incidence of concomitant intra-articular lesions in acute ankle fractures with arthroscopy. We also sought to analyze the relationship between intra-articular lesions and the fracture type, as well as the severity of the fracture.

METHODS: It was a retrospective cohort study. From April 2014 to December 2015, we have chosen arthroscopy-assisted open reduction and internal fixation (AORIF) for the treatment of unstable acute ankle fractures. All concomitant intra-articular lesions were assessed and documented carefully and prospectively, such as ligament injuries, osteochondral lesions, and tibiofibular syndesmosis injuries. All fractures were classified according to the Lauge-Hansen classification system. The American Orthopedic Foot and Ankle Society's (AOFAS) ankle-hindfoot scale was used to assess post-operative function. Statistical comparisons between the intra-articular lesions, the fracture type, and the severity of the presenting fracture were performed using a Chi-squared analysis.

RESULTS: Data of 36 patients were analyzed in the study, including 23 supination-type fractures and 13 pronation-type fractures. The incidence of tibiofibular syndesmosis injuries, chondral lesions, and loose bodies were 92%, 72%, and 39%, respectively. Avulsion fractures of the anterior tibiofibular syndesmosis were more commonly found in supination-type fractures than pronation-type fracture (45% vs. 15%, χ = 5.78, P = 0.02), which would cause mechanical blocking in the anterior portion of the ankle. On the contrary, chondral lesions were more commonly found in the more severe fractures than mild fractures (86% vs. 53%, χ = 4.57, P = 0.03). A mean 41.7 months (range, 33.0-51.0 months) of follow-up was achieved. A mean AOFAS's ankle-hindfoot scale was 96.9, and 97.2% of the patients were satisfied with the procedure.

CONCLUSIONS: Acute ankle fractures have a high incidence of concomitant intra-articular lesions. Avulsion fractures of the anterior tibiofibular syndesmosis are more commonly found in supination-type fractures. Chondral lesions are related to the severity of the fractures, but not with the classification of the fractures. AORIF can be one reliable solution in dealing with the associated injuries seen with acute ankle fractures.

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