Arthroscopically Assisted Open Reduction-Internal Fixation of Ankle Fractures: Significance of the Arthroscopic Ankle Drive-through Sign

Arthrosc Tech. 2016 Apr 25;5(2):e407-12. doi: 10.1016/j.eats.2016.01.018. eCollection 2016 Apr.


Standalone open reduction-internal fixation (ORIF) of unstable ankle fractures is the current standard of care. Intraoperative stress radiographs are useful for assessing the extent of ligamentous disruption, but arthroscopic visualization has been shown to be more accurate. Concomitant arthroscopy at the time of ankle fracture ORIF is useful for accurately diagnosing and managing syndesmotic and deltoid ligament injuries. The arthroscopic ankle drive-through sign is characterized by the ability to pass a 2.9-mm shaver (Smith & Nephew, Andover, MA) easily through the medial ankle gutter during arthroscopy, which is not usually possible with both an intact deltoid ligament and syndesmosis. This arthroscopic maneuver indicates instability after ankle reduction and fixation and is predictive of the need for further stabilization. Furthermore, when this sign remains positive after fracture fixation, it may guide the surgeon to further evaluate the adequacy of fixation for the possible need for further fixation of the syndesmosis or deltoid. We present the case of an ankle fracture managed with arthroscopy-assisted ORIF and describe the clinical utility of the arthroscopic ankle drive-through sign.