Differences Between Subtalar Instability and Lateral Ankle Instability Focusing on Subtalar Ligaments Based on Three Dimensional Isotropic Magnetic Resonance Imaging

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Abstract

Objective

The purpose of this study was to assess the differences between subtalar instability (STI) and lateral ankle instability (LAI) focusing on subtalar ligaments using 3-dimensional (3D) isotropic magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

Methods

Preoperative MRIs of 10 patients with STI who failed nonoperative treatment and consequently underwent arthroscopic subtalar reconstruction were compared with preoperative MRIs of 23 patients with LAI who underwent ligament repair or reconstruction. Dimensions of anterior capsular ligament (ACL), interosseous talocalcaneal ligament (ITCL), calcaneofibular ligament (CFL), and anterior talofibular ligament (ATFL) were measured. Tears of ACL, ITCL, CFL, ATFL, cervical ligament, and inferior extensor retinaculum were analyzed.

Results

Patients with subtalar instability had significantly lower ACL thickness and width than patients with LAI (thickness: 1.48 vs 2.12 mm, P = 0.045; width: 7.30 vs 8.64 mm, P = 0.029). An ACL thickness of 1.8 mm or less had sensitivity and specificity both at 75.0%, and an ACL width of 8 mm or less had sensitivity of 75.0% and specificity of 85.0% for discriminating STI from LAI. Absence or complete tear of ACL was more frequent in patients with STI than in patients with LAI (60.0% vs 13.0%, P = 0.010). The ATFL thickness was significantly greater in patients with LAI (P = 0.001). Complete tear of ATFL was more common in patients with LAI (P = 0.008). Complete tear of CFL was common in both the STI and LAI groups without significant difference (20.0% vs 21.7%). There was no significant difference in thickness and width of ITCL and in CFL thickness. Complete tear of ITCL, cervical ligament, and inferior extensor retinaculum were rare without significant difference.

Conclusion

In patients with STI, the ACL is thin and narrow and more commonly absent or torn compared with patients with LAI. Complete tear of ATFL was more common in patients with LAI. Complete tear of CFL was commonly encountered in both the STI and LAI groups.

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