Effects of Fibular Plate Fixation on Ankle Stability in a Weber B Fracture Model With Partial Deltoid Ligament Sectioning

Foot Ankle Int. 2024 Jun;45(6):641-647. doi: 10.1177/10711007241235903. Epub 2024 Mar 19.


Background: Weber B fractures with concomitant deltoid ligament injury have traditionally been operated with open reduction and internal fixation of the fibular fracture. More recently, clinical studies have suggested that some fractures have concomitant partial deltoid ligament injury with the deep posterior tibiotalar ligament intact (SER4a), allowing for nonoperative treatment in this subgroup. This study explores whether plate fixation of the fibula improves ankle stability in an SER4a injury model. And if so, does it restore native ankle stability?

Methods: Fifteen cadaver ankle specimens were tested in 3 states using an industrial robot: intact joint, SER4a models without plate fixation of the fibula, and SER4a models with plate fixation of the fibula. The robot measured ankle stability in lateral translation, valgus, and internal and external rotation in 3 talocrural joint positions: 10 degrees dorsiflexion, neutral, and 20 degrees plantar flexion. Furthermore, fluoroscopic mortise view radiographs were taken to measure isolated talar shift and talar tilt.

Results: The talar shift and tilt tests showed no differences between the SER4a injury model with and without fibular plate fixation at neutral ankle position with a mean difference of -0.16 mm (95% CI -0.33 to 0.01 mm, P = .071) for talar shift and -0.15 degrees (95% CI -0.01 to 0.30 degrees, P = .068) for talar tilt. However, plate fixation increased external rotation stability, with mean improvements ranging from -7.43 to -9.52 degrees (P < .001 for all comparisons), but did not restore intact ankle stability. For internal rotation, plate fixation resulted in minor differences.

Conclusion: The results of this suggest that plate fixation of the fibular fracture primarily improves external rotation stability but does not substantially improve lateral translation, valgus, or internal rotation stability in SER4a injury models. In this robotic cadaver model, fibular plate fixation did not fully restore intact ankle stability after simulated SER4a injury.

Clinical relevance: This study offers insights into the effects of fibular plate fixation on Weber B/SER4a injury models and may assist informed decisions when selecting treatments for these types of fractures.

Keywords: Weber B; ankle fracture; biomechanics; deltoid ligament; stability assessment; trauma.

MeSH terms

  • Ankle Fractures / surgery
  • Ankle Injuries / physiopathology
  • Ankle Injuries / surgery
  • Ankle Joint* / physiopathology
  • Ankle Joint* / surgery
  • Bone Plates*
  • Cadaver*
  • Fibula* / injuries
  • Fibula* / surgery
  • Fracture Fixation, Internal* / methods
  • Fractures, Bone / surgery
  • Humans
  • Joint Instability* / physiopathology
  • Joint Instability* / surgery
  • Ligaments, Articular* / injuries
  • Ligaments, Articular* / surgery
  • Male
  • Range of Motion, Articular