• Clinical science

Ankle fracture

Abstract

Ankle fractures are the most common fractures of the lower extremity. They are most often caused by twisting the ankle, the circumstances of which the patient will typically recall. The major symptoms are pain in the affected area and decreased range of motion. If physical examination and the patient history suggest a fracture (e.g., patient is unable to bear weight on the affected leg), an x-ray is performed. The most important diagnostic consideration is whether the fracture is stable (as is the case in isolated malleolar fractures) or unstable (e.g., bimalleolar fracture). Unstable fractures require surgery, whereas stable fractures can be treated conservatively with a short leg cast.

Etiology

Classification

Fracture Stability
Isolated medial or lateral malleolar fracture usually stable
Posterior malleolus fracture (refers to the posterior tibia) usually unstable, as often associated with other malleolar fractures
Bimalleolar fracture (both medial and lateral malleolus) mostly unstable
Trimalleolar fracture (medial, lateral and posterior malleolus) always unstable

Weber classification of ankle fractures

The Weber classification categorizes ankle fractures according to the level of the fibular fracture in relation to the ankle syndesmosis (tibiofibular syndesmosis).[2]

Special forms

Clinical features

  • Local pain, swelling and hematoma
  • Tenderness, especially in the area of the malleoli, the syndesmosis, and the posterior aspect of the ankle joint
  • Restricted range of movement
  • Skin abnormalities (lacerations, discolorations, tenting, or blistering)
  • If separation of the ankle mortise elements occurs → lateral displacement of the foot[7]
  • In some cases, accompanying injury (e.g., fracture of the proximal fibula, knee, or foot)

Diagnostics

References:[7]

Treatment

  • Initial management: rest, ice, compression, and elevation
  • Conservative treatment
  • Surgical treatment: to ensure normal alignment of bone and cartilage to prevent ankle arthritis and to regain functionality
    • Indications: unstable/displaced fractures, open ankle fractures, and cases of neurovascular damage
    • Technique: reposition and internal or external fixation with metal plates and/or screws

References:[7]

Complications

We list the most important complications. The selection is not exhaustive.