Background: There is no study comparing how Weber type C ankle fractures treated with either three- or four-cortex syndesmotic fixation affects the structure of the syndesmosis.
Methods: In a retrospective study, 46 patients were separated into two groups: 22 patients with three-cortex fixation and 24 patients with four-cortex fixation. All of the patients were evaluated clinically and radiographically at least 1 year after removal of the syndesmosis screws.
Results: There were three types of joint space obliteration: type 1, synostosis on plain radiographs; type 2, an incomplete bony bridge on magnetic resonance imaging with normal plain radiographs; and type 3, fibrous obliteration of the joint space. Although obliteration of the joint space was significant (P < .005) after four-cortex fixation, radiologic results did not affect the clinical outcome.
Conclusion: Four-cortex fixation for diastasis after an ankle fracture should not be a routine procedure. We advocate three-cortex fixation because the clinical results are no different and there is less syndesmotic space obliteration postoperatively.