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Primary Repair, Reconstruction, and Suture Tape Augmentation All Provide Excellent Outcomes for Lateral Ligament Instability: A Systematic Review.

PURPOSE: To analyze the literature to compare outcomes and complications following primary lateral ankle ligament repair compared with lateral ankle ligament reconstruction and the suture tape augmentation in patients with lateral ankle instability.

METHODS: Following the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Review and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) criteria, a systematic literature review using the PubMed/Ovid Medline database was performed (October 11, 1947, to October 1, 2019). Clinical trials that included all the following criteria were considered eligible; published in the English language; patients undergoing primary lateral ankle repair or reconstruction with/without autograft or allograft (anterior talofibular ligament, anterior talofibular ligament + calcaneofibular ligament) or suture tape augmentation; a follow-up at least 1 year; reported least 1 of the measured outcomes (The American Orthopaedic Foot Ankle Score, Karlsson Score, return to sport [RTS], complications, skin wound complications, reoperation). Surgical techniques were evaluated, and studies were subdivided by the following categories: primary repair (PR), reconstruction with graft (GR), and suture tape augmentation (STA). Complications, radiographic outcomes, functional outcome scores, and RTS were analyzed.

RESULTS: A total of 41 of 1,991 studies met the criteria for final analysis. This included 1,920 patients who underwent surgical intervention for chronic lateral instability with at least a 1-year follow-up. There were 350 patients who had GR, 1,486 who underwent the PR, and 84 who had STA. GR group appeared to have the lowest rate of complications: GR 3.1% (11 of 350), PR 4.2% (63 of 1486), and STA 10.7% (9 of 84). Postoperative American Orthopaedic Foot Ankle Score ranged from 89.0 to 95.1 for GR and 90.0 to 98.8 for PR. Postoperative Karlsson scores ranged from 80.9 to 94.4 for GR and from 89.2 to 94.1 for PR. Anterior drawer postoperative scores ranged from 1.4 to 30.3 mm for GR, 2.7 to 8.6 mm for PR, and 4.1 to 4.2 mm for STA. Postoperative talar tilt ranged from 2.4 to 7.3° for GR, 1.9 to 6.0° for PR, and 3.6 to 4.5° for STA. RTS ranged from 9.5 to 20.4 weeks for the PR group; one study reported a RTS of 10.6 weeks for STA.

CONCLUSIONS: Excellent outcomes were noted across all intervention groups. Current literature may suggest there is no difference in functional outcomes between patients treated with PR versus GR. However, there may be a potential improvement in functional outcomes with PR versus STA.

LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Level IV, systematic review of Level I to Level IV studies.

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