• Clinical science

Ankle fracture


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.




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

Clinical features


  • Physical examination: Check for neurovascular deficits
  • 3-view plain x-ray: Anteroposterior (AP); , lateral and oblique view



  • Initial management: rest, ice, compression, and elevation
  • Conservative treatment
    • Indications: stable fractures (isolated/nondisplaced malleolar fractures)
    • Short leg cast for 4–6 weeks
  • Surgical treatment: to ensure normal alignment of bone and cartilage to prevent ankle arthritis and to regain functionality




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