Tibiofemoral syndesmosis injury treated by temporary screw fixation and ligament repair

Orthop Traumatol Surg Res. 2016 Dec;102(8):1069-1073. doi: 10.1016/j.otsr.2016.06.015. Epub 2016 Sep 1.


Introduction: Tibiofemoral syndesmosis injuries are common but have not been extensively researched. The primary objective of this study was to evaluate the outcomes after temporary screw fixation with ligament repair of these injuries. The secondary objective was to look for factors that could impact these outcomes. We hypothesised that this double fixation (screw+suture) would lead to good outcomes with minimal secondary opening of the syndesmosis upon screw removal.

Material and methods: This was a retrospective study of 285 patients with a tibiofemoral syndesmosis injury (01/2004-12/2011) who were treated by temporary tricortical or quadricortical screw fixation and ligament repair. The operated leg was unloaded for 6-8 weeks postoperative with the patient wearing a walking cast. The screw was removed in all patients before weight bearing was allowed. At follow-up, the range of motion, return to sports, pain, and functional scores (AOFAS and OMAS) were determined, and a radiological assessment was performed.

Results: One hundred twenty-six patients were reviewed after a mean follow-up of 5.9±5.7years (2.9-10.5). Mean plantarflexion was 95% of the contralateral side and mean dorsiflexion was 93%. Return to sports occurred after a mean of 10weeks; 83% of patients returned to their pre-injury level of participation. Pain on VAS was 0.8/10 on average. The mean AOFAS and OMAS scores were both above 90 points. At the review, 4% of screws had broken. Diastasis was found in 5.6% of cases, osteoarthritis in 6.3% and an osteophyte in 11.1% of cases, but with no clinical repercussions. No risk factors were identified.

Discussion and conclusion: Treatment by temporary screw fixation and ligament repair leads to good objective results, confirming our hypothesis. However, there is little published data and no consensus on the fixation method or the need to remove the screw.

Level of evidence: IV, retrospective, non-comparative.

Keywords: Ankle; Distal tibiofibular joint; Syndesmosis screw.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Ankle Injuries / complications
  • Ankle Injuries / diagnostic imaging
  • Ankle Injuries / surgery*
  • Ankle Joint / physiopathology*
  • Bone Screws
  • Device Removal
  • Female
  • Fibula / injuries*
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Fracture Fixation, Internal / methods*
  • Fractures, Bone / complications
  • Fractures, Bone / diagnostic imaging
  • Fractures, Bone / surgery*
  • Humans
  • Ligaments / surgery*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Musculoskeletal Pain / etiology
  • Osteoarthritis / etiology
  • Osteophyte / etiology
  • Range of Motion, Articular
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Return to Sport
  • Young Adult