Effect of Arthroscopically Confirmed Syndesmotic Widening on Outcome Following Isolated Broström Operation for Chronic Lateral Ankle Instability

Foot Ankle Int. 2023 Apr;44(4):270-278. doi: 10.1177/10711007231153388. Epub 2023 Mar 10.


Background: Tibiofibular syndesmosis (TFS) widening sometimes is not evident on radiography but can be found under arthroscopy in chronic lateral ankle instability (CLAI). This study aimed to evaluate the effect of TFS widening severity on clinical outcomes and return to activities after isolated Broström operation in CLAI patients and to propose an indication for its surgical intervention.

Methods: A total of 118 CLAI patients undergoing diagnostic ankle arthroscopy and open Broström-Gould operation were included. Based on the middle width of TFS measured under arthroscopy, patients were divided into the TFS-2 group (≤2 mm, n = 44), the TFS-3 group (2-4 mm, n = 42), and the TFS-4 group (≥4 mm, n = 32). The time to return to recreational sport and work, Tegner activity score, and proportion of returning to preinjury sports at the final follow-up were evaluated and compared. Other subjective evaluations included the American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society score, visual analog scale, and Karlsson-Peterson score.

Results: Among the 3 groups, the TFS-4 group demonstrated the longest mean time to return to work and recreational sports, with the lowest proportion returning to preinjury sports. The TFS-4 group showed a significantly higher rate of sprain recurrence (12.5%) than the other 2 groups (P =.021). All the other subjective scores significantly improved after the operation without differences among the 3 groups.

Conclusion: Concomitant severe syndesmotic widening adversely affects the return to activities after Broström operation in CLAI cases. The CLAI patients with a middle TFS width ≥4 mm were associated with delayed return to work and sports, a lower proportion of returning to preinjury sports, and more sprain recurrence, which might require further surgical intervention for syndesmosis in addition to Broström surgery.

Level of evidence: Level III, retrospective cohort study.

Keywords: Broström-Gould operation; ankle arthroscopy; chronic lateral ankle instability; return to play; syndesmosis.

MeSH terms

  • Ankle
  • Ankle Joint / surgery
  • Arthroscopy
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Joint Instability* / surgery
  • Lateral Ligament, Ankle* / surgery
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sprains and Strains*