The objective of this study was to describe the technical details of performing a newly developed arthroscopic grading of inferior tibiofibular syndesmosis injuries. Arthroscopy is emerging as the gold standard for evaluating painful, unstable ankles. The inferior tibiofibular syndesmosis contributes substantially to disorders of the ankle. However, no structured grading system exists that would help surgeons evaluate injuries of the syndesmosis. Seventy-eight patients with pain or instability symptoms in the ankle were arthroscopically evaluated for syndesmosis injury. The lesions were graded according to the prospectively developed protocol.
More than 61% of the patients had syndesmosis disruptions of various grades affecting the anterior/posterior ligaments or both ligaments. Fourteen patients had anterior ligament disruptions whereas 4 patients had posterior lesions; another 7 patients had both ligaments asymmetrically injured. Eighteen of the 78 patients had symmetric grade 1 lesions, and 5 had grade 2 lesions.
More than half of chronic ankle pain cases have syndesmotic lesions. Symmetrical lesions of the anterior and posterior ligaments predominate, followed by isolated anterior ligament disruptions. The proposed grading system for inferior tibiofibular syndesmosis disruptions serves as a guide to systematic documentation of injuries of the syndesmosis.
Level of Clinical Evidence: 3