Lateral Ligament Repair and Reconstruction Restore Neither Contact Mechanics of the Ankle Joint nor Motion Patterns of the Hindfoot

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Background:Ankle sprains may damage both the lateral ligaments of the hindfoot and the osteochondral tissue of the ankle joint. When nonoperative treatment fails, operative approaches are indicated to restore both native motion patterns at the hindfoot and ankle joint contact mechanics. The goal of the present study was to determine the effect of lateral ligament injury, repair, and reconstruction on ankle joint contact mechanics and hindfoot motion patterns.Methods:Eight cadaveric specimens were tested with use of robotic technology to apply combined compressive (200-N) and inversion (4.5-Nm) loads to the hindfoot at 0° and 20° of plantar flexion. Contact mechanics at the ankle joint were simultaneously measured. A repeated-measures experiment was designed with use of the intact condition as control, with the other conditions including sectioned anterior talofibular and calcaneofibular ligaments, the Broström and Broström-Gould repairs, and graft reconstruction.Results:Ligament sectioning decreased contact area and caused a medial and anterior shift in the center of pressure with inversion loads relative to those with the intact condition. There were no significant differences in inversion or coupled axial rotation with inversion between the Broström repair and the intact condition; however, medial translation of the center of pressure remained elevated after the Broström repair relative to the intact condition. The Gould modification of the Broström procedure provided additional support to the hindfoot relative to the Broström repair, reducing inversion and axial rotation with inversion beyond that of intact ligaments. There were no significant differences in center-of-pressure excursion patterns between the Broström-Gould repair and the intact ligament condition, but this repair increased contact area beyond that with the ligaments intact. Graft reconstruction more closely restored inversion motion than did the Broström-Gould repair at 20° of plantar flexion but limited coupled axial rotation. Graft reconstruction also increased contact areas beyond the lateral ligament-deficient conditions but altered center-of-pressure excursion patterns relative to the intact condition.Conclusions:No lateral ankle ligament reconstruction completely restored native contact mechanics of the ankle joint and hindfoot motion patterns.Clinical Relevance:Our results provide a rationale for conducting long-term, prospective, comparative, in vivo studies to assess the impact of altered mechanics following lateral ligament injury, and its nonoperative and operative treatment, on the development of ankle osteoarthritis.

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