Arthroscopic treatment of chronic ankle instability: Prospective study of outcomes in 286 patients

Orthop Traumatol Surg Res. 2018 Dec;104(8S):S199-S205. doi: 10.1016/j.otsr.2018.09.005. Epub 2018 Sep 21.


Background: Chronic ankle instability (CAI) is the main complication of ankle sprains and requires surgery if non-operative treatment fails. Surgical ankle stabilisation techniques can be roughly classified into two groups, namely, repair involving retensioning and suturing of the anterior talofibular ligament (ATFL) and calcaneofibular ligament (CFL) and reconstruction using a tendon graft. Arthroscopic repair and reconstruction techniques for CAI have been introduced recently. The objective of this prospective multicentre study was to assess the feasibility, morbidity, and short-term outcomes of these arthroscopic ankle-stabilisation techniques.

Material and methods: Consecutive patients scheduled for arthroscopic treatment of CAI were included prospectively. Of the 286 included patients, 115 underwent ligament repair and 171 ligament reconstruction. Mean follow-up was 9.6 months (range, 6-43 months). We recorded the AOFAS and Karlsson scores, patient satisfaction, complications, and time to return to sports.

Results: The overall patient satisfaction score was 8.5/10. The AOFAS and Karlsson scores improved significantly between the pre- and postoperative assessments, from 62.1 to 89.2 and from 55 to 87.1, respectively. These scores were not significantly different between the groups treated by repair and by reconstruction. Neurological complications occurred in 10% of patients and consisted chiefly in transient dysesthesia (with neuroma in 3.5% of patients). Cutaneous or infectious complications requiring surgical revision developed in 4.2% of patients.

Discussion: Arthroscopic treatment is becoming a method of choice for patients with CAI, as it allows a comprehensive assessment of the ligament lesions, the detection and treatment of associated lesions, and repair or reconstruction of the damaged ligaments. These simple, reliable, and reproducible arthroscopic techniques seem as effective as conventional surgical techniques. The rate of cutaneous complications is at least halved compared to open surgery.

Conclusion: Arthroscopic ankle stabilisation repair and reconstruction techniques hold considerable promise but require further evaluation to better determine the indications of repair versus reconstruction and to obtain information on long-term outcomes.

Keywords: Ankle instability; Arthroscopy; Broström procedure; Ligament reconstruction.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Ankle Injuries / complications
  • Ankle Joint / surgery*
  • Arthroscopy / adverse effects
  • Arthroscopy / methods
  • Child
  • Chronic Disease
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Joint Instability / etiology
  • Joint Instability / surgery*
  • Lateral Ligament, Ankle / surgery*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Plastic Surgery Procedures / adverse effects
  • Postoperative Period
  • Prospective Studies
  • Reoperation
  • Tendons / transplantation
  • Young Adult