Use of cast immobilization versus removable brace in adults with an ankle fracture: two-year follow-up of a multicentre randomized controlled trial

Bone Joint J. 2023 Mar 15;105-B(4):382-388. doi: 10.1302/0301-620X.105B4.BJJ-2022-0602.R3.


The aim of this study was to compare the longer-term outcomes of operatively and nonoperatively managed patients treated with a removable brace (fixed-angle removable orthosis) or a plaster cast immobilization for an acute ankle fracture. This is a secondary analysis of a multicentre randomized controlled trial comparing adults with an acute ankle fracture, initially managed either by operative or nonoperative care. Patients were randomly allocated to receive either a cast immobilization or a fixed-angle removable orthosis (removable brace). Data were collected on baseline characteristics, ankle function, quality of life, and complications. The Olerud-Molander Ankle Score (OMAS) was the primary outcome which was used to measure the participant's ankle function. The primary endpoint was at 16 weeks, with longer-term follow-up at 24 weeks and two years. Overall, 436 patients (65%) completed the final two-year follow-up. The mean difference in OMAS at two years was -0.3 points favouring the plaster cast (95% confidence interval -3.9 to 3.4), indicating no statistically significant difference between the interventions. There was no evidence of differences in patient quality of life (measured using the EuroQol five-dimension five-level questionnaire) or Disability Rating Index. This study demonstrated that patients treated with a removable brace had similar outcomes to those treated with a plaster cast in the first two years after injury. A removable brace is an effective alternative to traditional immobilization in a plaster cast for patients with an ankle fracture.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Ankle Fractures* / surgery
  • Braces
  • Casts, Surgical / adverse effects
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Orthotic Devices
  • Quality of Life
  • Treatment Outcome