Background: Lateral ankle sprains may result in pain and disability in the short term, decreased sport activity and early retirement from sports in the mid term, and secondary injuries and development of early osteoarthritis to the ankle in the long term.
Hypothesis: This combined approach to chronic lateral instability and intra-articular lesions of the ankle is safe and in the long term maintains mechanical stability, functional ability, and a good level of sport activity.
Study design: Case series; Level of evidence, 4.
Methods: We present the long-term outcomes of 42 athletes who underwent ankle arthroscopy and anterior talofibular Broström repair for management of chronic lateral ankle instability. We assessed in all patients preoperative and postoperative anterior drawer test and side-to-side differences, American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society (AOFAS) score, and Kaikkonen grading scales. Patients were asked about return to sport and level of activity. Patients were also assessed for development of degenerative changes to the ankle, and preoperative versus postoperative findings were compared.
Results: Thirty-eight patients were reviewed at an average of 8.7 years (range, 5-13 years) after surgery; 4 patients were lost to follow-up. At the last follow-up, patients were significantly improved for ankle laxity, AOFAS scores, and Kaikkonen scales. The mean AOFAS score improved from 51 (range, 32-71) to 90 (range, 67-100), and the mean Kaikkonen score improved from 45 (range, 30-70) to 90 (range, 65-100). According to outcome criteria set preoperatively, there were 8 failures by the AOFAS score and 9 by the Kaikkonen score. Twenty-two (58%) patients practiced sport at the preinjury level, 6 (16%) had changed to lower levels but were still active in less demanding sports (cycling and tennis), and 10 (26%) had abandoned active sport participation although they still were physically active. Six of these patients did not feel safe with their ankle because of the occurrence of new episodes of ankle instability. Of the 27 patients who had no evidence of degenerative changes preoperatively, 8 patients (30%) had radiographic signs of degenerative changes (5 grade I and 3 grade II) of the ankle; 4 of the 11 patients (11%) with preexisting grade I changes remained unchanged, and 7 patients (18%) had progressed to grade II. No correlation was found between osteoarthritis and status of sport activity (P = .72).
Conclusion: Combined Broström repair and ankle arthroscopy are safe and allow most patients to return to preinjury daily and sport activities.