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Better outcomes using suture button compared to screw fixation in talofibular syndesmotic injuries of the ankle: a level I evidence-based meta-analysis.

INTRODUCTION: The present meta-analysis evaluated current level I clinical trials which compared the use of a suture button (SB) versus syndesmotic screw (SS) fixation techniques for syndesmosis injuries of the ankle. The outcomes of interest were to compare patient-reported outcome measures (PROMs) and complications. It was hypothesised that SB might achieve better PROMs along with a lower rate of complications.

METHODS: This study was conducted according to the 2020 PRISMA statement. In August 2023, PubMed, Web of Science, Google Scholar, and Embase were accessed. All the randomised controlled trials (RCTs) which compared SB versus SS fixation for syndesmosis injuries of the ankle were accessed. Data concerning the American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society (AOFAS), and Olerud-Molander score (OMS) were collected at baseline and at last follow-up. Data on implant failure, implant removal, and joint malreduction were also retrieved.

RESULTS: Data from seven RCTs (490 patients) were collected. 33% (161 of 490) were women. The mean length of the follow-up was 30.8 ± 27.4 months. The mean age of the patients was 41.1 ± 4.1 years. Between the two groups (SB and SS), comparability was found in the mean age, and men:women ratio. The SS group evidenced lower OMS (P = 0.0006) and lower AOFAS (P = 0.03). The SS group evidenced a greater rate of implant failure (P = 0.0003), implant removal (P = 0.0005), and malreduction (P = 0.04).

CONCLUSION: Suture button fixation might perform better than the syndesmotic screw fixation in syndesmotic injuries of the ankle.

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