When is a simple fracture of the lateral malleolus not so simple?: HOW TO ASSESS STABILITY, WHICH ONES TO FIX AND THE ROLE OF THE DELTOID LIGAMENT

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Stable fractures of the ankle can be safely treated non-operatively. It is also gradually being recognised that the integrity of the ‘medial column' is essential for the stability of the fracture. It is generally thought that bi- and tri-malleolar fractures are unstable, as are pronation external rotation injuries resulting in an isolated high fibular fracture (Weber type-C), where the deltoid ligament is damaged or the medial malleolus fractured. However, how best to identify unstable, isolated, trans-syndesmotic Weber type-B supination external rotation (SER) fractures of the lateral malleolus remains controversial.

We provide a rationale as to how to classify SER distal fibular fractures using weight-bearing radiographs, and how this can help guide the management of these common injuries.

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