Long-term outcome of pronation-external rotation ankle fractures treated with syndesmotic screws only

Kaj T.A. Lambers, Michel P.J. Van Den Bekerom, Job N. Doornberg, Sjoerd A.S. Stufkens, C. Niek Van Dijk, Peter Kloen

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: There is sparse information in the literature on the outcome of Maisonneuve-type pronation-external rotation ankle fractures treated with syndesmotic screws. The primary aim of this study was to determine the long-term results of such treatment of these fractures as indicated by standardized patient-based and physician-based outcome measures. The secondary aim was to identify predictors of the outcome with use of bivariate and multivariate statistical analysis. Methods: Fifty patients with pronation-external rotation (predominantly Maisonneuve) fractures were treated with open reduction and internal fixation of the syndesmosis utilizing only one or two screws. The results were evaluated at a mean of twenty-one years after the fracture utilizing three standardized outcomes instruments: (1) the Foot and Ankle Ability Measure (FAAM), (2) the American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society (AOFAS) ankle-hindfoot scale, and (3) the Center for Epidemiologic Studies-Depression (CES-D) Scale. Osteoarthritis was graded according to the van Dijk and revised Takakura radiographic scoring systems. Bivariate and multivariate analyses were performed to identify predictors of long-term outcome. Results: Forty-four (92%) of forty-eighty patients had good or excellent AOFAS scores, and forty-four (90%) of forty-nine had good or excellent FAAM scores. Arthrodesis for severe osteoarthritis was performed in two patients. Radiographic evidence of osteoarthritis was observed in twenty-four (49%) of forty-nine patients. Multivariate analysis identified pain as the most important independent predictor of long-term ankle function as indicated by the AOFAS and FAAM scores, explaining 91% and 53% of the variation in scores, respectively. Analysis of pain as the dependent variable in bivariate analyses revealed that depression, ankle range of motion, and a subsequent surgery were significantly correlated with higher pain scores. No firm conclusions could be drawn after multivariate analysis of predictors of pain. Conclusions: Long-term functional outcomes at a mean of twenty-one years after pronation-external rotation ankle fractures treated with one or two syndesmotic screws were good to excellent in the great majority of patients despite substantial radiographic evidence of osteoarthritis in one-half of the patients. The most important predictor of long-term functional outcome was patient-reported pain rather than physician-reported function or posttraumatic osteoarthritis. There was no significant association between radiographic signs of posttraumatic osteoarthritis and perceived pain in the present series. Level of Evidence: Therapeutic Level IV. See Instructions for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e1221-e1227
JournalJournal of Bone and Joint Surgery - Series A
Issue number17
Publication statusPublished - 4 Sept 2013
Externally publishedYes


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