Searching for consensus in the approach to patients with chronic lateral ankle instability: ask the expert

Knee Surg Sports Traumatol Arthrosc. 2018 Jul;26(7):2095-2102. doi: 10.1007/s00167-017-4556-0. Epub 2017 Apr 25.


Purpose: The purpose of this study is to propose recommendations for the treatment of patients with chronic lateral ankle instability (CAI) based on expert opinions.

Methods: A questionnaire was sent to 32 orthopaedic surgeons with clinical and scientific experience in the treatment of CAI. The questions were related to preoperative imaging, indications and timing of surgery, technical choices, and the influence of patient-related aspects.

Results: Thirty of the 32 invited surgeons (94%) responded. Consensus was found on several aspects of treatment. Preoperative MRI was routinely recommended. Surgery was considered in patients with functional ankle instability after 3-6 months of non-surgical treatment. Ligament repair is still the treatment of choice in patients with mechanical instability; however, in patients with generalized laxity or poor ligament quality, lateral ligament reconstruction (with grafting) of both the ATFL and CFL should be considered.

Conclusions: Most surgeons request an MRI during the preoperative planning. There is a trend towards earlier surgical treatment (after failure of non-surgical treatment) in patients with mechanical ligament laxity (compared with functional instability) and in high-level athletes. This study proposes an assessment and a treatment algorithm that may be used as a recommendation in the treatment of patients with CAI.

Level of evidence: V.

Keywords: Algorithm; Ankle instability; Ankle ligament; Anterior talofibular ligament; Calcaneofibular ligament; Joint instability; Lateral instability of the ankle; Ligament reconstruction; Ligament repair; Recommendations; Subtalar instability; Survey.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Ankle Injuries / diagnostic imaging
  • Ankle Injuries / surgery*
  • Ankle Joint / diagnostic imaging
  • Ankle Joint / surgery*
  • Chronic Disease
  • Comorbidity
  • Consensus
  • Expert Testimony / standards*
  • Female
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Humans
  • Joint Instability / diagnostic imaging
  • Joint Instability / surgery*
  • Lateral Ligament, Ankle / diagnostic imaging
  • Lateral Ligament, Ankle / injuries
  • Lateral Ligament, Ankle / surgery*
  • Ligaments / diagnostic imaging
  • Ligaments / surgery
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Plastic Surgery Procedures / methods
  • Preoperative Care
  • Young Adult