Isolated syndesmosis ankle injury

Orthopedics. 2012 Dec;35(12):e1705-10. doi: 10.3928/01477447-20121120-13.


Isolated syndesmosis injuries often go unrecognized and are diagnosed as lateral ankle sprains; however, they are more disabling than lateral ankle sprains. The reported incidence of isolated syndesmosis injuries in acute ankle sprains ranges between 1% and 16%. When ankle disability lasts for more than 2 months after an ankle sprain, the incidence increases to 23.6%. Diagnostic workup may include stress radiographs, magnetic resonance imaging, or diagnostic arthroscopy. A simple stress test radiograph may reveal an unstable grade III syndesmosis sprain that may go unrecognized on plain anteroposterior and mortise or lateral radiographs of the ankle. The duration of symptoms in isolated syndesmosis injury is longer and more severe, often leading to chronic symptoms or ankle instability requiring operative stabilization.This article describes the clinical presentation, injury classification, and operative stabilization techniques of isolated syndesmosis injuries. The authors performed their preferred operative stabilization technique for isolated syndesmosis injury-arthroscopic debridement of the ankle with syndesmotic stabilization with a syndesmotic screw-in 4 patients. All patients were evaluated 1 year postoperatively with subjective and objective assessment scales. Three of 4 patients showed good improvement of general subjective ankle symptoms and subjective ankle instability rating and a high Sports Ankle Rating System score after 1 year.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Ankle Injuries / classification
  • Ankle Injuries / diagnostic imaging
  • Ankle Injuries / surgery*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Ligaments, Articular / diagnostic imaging
  • Ligaments, Articular / surgery*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Orthopedic Procedures*
  • Radiography
  • Sprains and Strains / surgery*