Complications of Distal Tibiofibular Syndesmotic Screw Stabilization: Analysis of 236 Patients

    loading  Checking for direct PDF access through Ovid


The objective of the present study was to evaluate our complications of screw stabilization and to formulate recommendations for clinical practice. Using a prospectively collected fracture database, the data from 236 consecutive adult patients were analyzed who had undergone syndesmotic screw stabilization from January 1979 to December 2000 at our level I academic trauma center. We observed 16 complications in 15 patients. The average patient age was 37.5 years. Of the 15 patients, 1 had a Weber B fracture and 14 had a Weber C ankle fracture. These complications included tibiofibular synostosis in 11 patients, screw breakage in 4 patients, and late diastasis in 1 patient. All breakages occurred in Weber C fractures. In particular, the 3.5-mm screws, penetrating both tibial cortices, tended to break. Synostosis was observed in 3% of the Weber B fractures and 5% of the Weber C fractures. Weightbearing in a plaster cast during syndesmotic screw stabilization is a safe postoperative treatment. We suggest that the use of 3.5-mm screws and screws penetrating 2 tibial cortices have a greater risk of breakage. Because of the low complication rate and more difficult treatment of late syndesmotic diastasis, a syndesmotic screw should be placed when in doubt of the indication.

Level of Clinical Evidence: 4

Related Topics

    loading  Loading Related Articles