In vivo syndesmotic overcompression after fixation of ankle fractures with a syndesmotic injury

Steven M. Cherney, Jacob A. Haynes, Amanda G. Spraggs-Hughes, Christopher M. Mcandrew, William M. Ricci, Michael J. Gardner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Objectives: The goals of this study were to assess syndesmotic reductions using computerized tomography and to determine whether malreductions are associated with certain injury types or reduction forceps. Design: Prospective cohort. Setting: Urban level 1 trauma center. Patients: Twenty-seven patients with operatively treated syndesmotic injuries were recruited prospectively. Intervention: Patients underwent postoperative bilateral computerized tomography of the ankle and hindfoot to assess syndesmotic reduction. The uninjured extremity was used as a control. Main outcome measurement: Side-to-side differences of the fibular position within the tibial incisura were measured at several anatomic points and analyzed based on injury type, the presence of posterior malleolar injury, level of fracture, and type of reduction forceps used. Results: On average, operatively treated syndesmotic injuries were overcompressed (fibular medialization) by 1 mm (P < 0.001) and externally rotated by 5° (P 0.002) when compared with the uninjured extremity. The absence of a posterior malleolar injury and Weber B (OTA 44-B) fractures seemed to have a protective effect against malrotation, but not against overcompression. There was no difference in malreduction based on the type of the clamp used. Conclusions: It is possible, and highly likely based on these data, to overcompress the syndesmosis when using reduction forceps. Care should be taken to avoid overcompression, as this may affect the ankle motion and functional outcomes. To our knowledge, this is the first in vivo series of syndesmotic overcompression. Level of Evidence: Prognostic Level IV. See Instructions for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)414-419
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of orthopaedic trauma
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 22 2015


  • ankle fractures
  • malreduction
  • syndesmosis


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