[Malleolar fractures. Predictive factors for secondary osteoarthritis. Retrospective study of 32 cases.]

Published online: Oct 27 2000

O Jarde, P Vives, E Havet, R Gouron, and W Meunier.

Service d'Orthopédie Traumatologie, Hôpital Nord, Amiens, France.


The authors report a series of 32 ankle fractures treated by internal fixation and reviewed with a follow-up of more than 15 years. The series includes 12 fibular, 14 bimalleolar and 6 trimalleolar fractures. Following Weber's classification, there were 4 type A, 18 type B and 10 type C fractures. The postoperative x-ray showed 28 anatomy reductions; shortening of the fibula from 3 to 5 mm was noted in 4 cases. Clinical results were evaluated according to Kitaoka's criteria, and radiological results according to Magnusson's criteria. Statistical analysis was made with a Chi-square test. The retrospective review at an average follow-up of 15 years showed 19 painfree ankles, normal mobility in 22 cases, absence of edema in 18. The shoe-wear was normal in 30 cases. Walking had returned to normal in 23 cases but radiography showed narrowing of the tibiotalar joint line in 12 cases and lengthening of the medial malleolus in 16. Narrowing of the tibiotalar joint space was associated with lengthening of the medial malleolus in 10 cases. The objective results were rated as follows: 23 good, 8 fair, and 1 poor. With a follow-up of 15 years, we noted degenerative changes in the ankle in 37% of cases in spite of an anatomic reconstruction which had been perfect in 28. Shortening of the fibula, observed in 4 cases, was associated with subsequent ossification below the medial malleolus corresponding to avulsion of the non sutured medial collateral ligament. Nevertheless, degenerative changes of the ankle were clinically well-tolerated. The long term result of internal fixation of malleolar fractures was good. This was achieved only through perfect restoration of the joint anatomy. Contrary to other series, non-operative repair of the medial collateral ligament was associated with long team degenerative changes and reduced mobility of the joint. We therefore now advocate surgical repair of the medial collateral ligament.