Does the Arthrex TightRope® Provide Maintenance of the Distal Tibiofibular Syndesmosis? A 2-year Follow-up of 64 TightRopes® in 37 Patients

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Abstract

Syndesmotic diastasis can occur as an isolated injury or with concomitant fractures. A review of 37 patients with 64 TightRopes® for syndesmotic repair was performed, with a mean follow-up of 23.6 ± 4.3 months, from 2007 to 2011. The patients’ mean age was 40.67 (range 14 to 87) years. The mean initial measurements were as follows: tibiofibular clear space (TFCS) = 4.1 ± 1.1 mm, tibiofibular overlap (TFO) = 7.2 ± 2.7 mm, and medial clear space (MCS) = 2.9 ± 0.5 mm. The mean final measurements were as follows: TFCS = 4.2 ± 1.3 mm, TFO = 7.4 2.8 mm, and MCS = 3.0 0.5 mm. The calculated measurable difference from the initial to final TFCS, TFO, and MCS was significantly less than the maximum threshold for allowable widening of the syndesmosis: TFCS, p < .001; TFO, p < .002; and MCS, p < .001. Complications occurred in 10 patients; 7 (19%) experienced knot irritation and 3 (8%) developed an infection. The mean interval to weightbearing was 33.2 ± 12.7 days. The mean postoperative American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society score was 97 (range 90 to 100). Of 64 suture endobuttons, 4 (6.25%) required removal. The fracture types were as follows: 3 (8%) isolated syndesmotic injuries, 9 (24%) trimalleolar fractures, 10 (27%) bimalleolar fractures, 7 (18%) Weber B fractures, 3 (8%) Weber C fractures, 1 (3%) Salter Harris type 3 fracture, and 4 (11%) Maisonneuve fractures. TightRope® fixation was advantageous because it rarely required removal, allowed for physiologic motion of the syndesmosis, and resulted in an early return to weightbearing. In addition, we have concluded that the TightRope® provides long-term stability of the ankle mortise, which was confirmed by the radiographic criteria and excellent American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society scores.

Level of Clinical Evidence: 3

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