Effect of fibula shortening on medial clear space and lateral translation of the talus: an anatomical cadaveric study
A. Gomaa, N. Heeran, L. Roper, G. Airey, R. Gangadharan, L. Mason, A. Bond
1University of Liverpool, Human Anatomy and Resource Department, Liverpool, United Kingdom,
2Liverpool University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Liverpool Orthopaedic and Trauma Service, Liverpool, United Kingdom
3University of Liverpool, Institute of Life Course and Medical Sciences, Liverpool, United Kingdom
Winner of the BOFAS 2023 Fourth Prize (Podium)
Introduction: Fibula shortening with an intact anterior tibiofibular ligament (ATFL) and medial ligament instability causes lateral translation of the talus. Our hypothesis was that the interaction of the AITFL tubercle of the fibular with the tibial incisura would propagate lateral translation due to the size differential. Aim: To assess what degree of shortening of the fibular would cause the lateral translation of the talus.
Methods: Twelve cadaveric ankle specimens were dissected removing all soft tissue except for ligaments. They were fixed on a specially-designed platform within an augmented ankle cage allowing tibial fixation and free movement of the talus. The fibula was progressively shortened in 5mm increments until complete ankle dislocation. The medial clear space was measured with each increment of shortening.
Results: The larger AITFL tubercle interaction with the smaller tibial incisura caused a significant increase in lateral translation of the talus. This occurred in most ankles between 5-10mm of fibular shortening. The medial clear space widened following 5mm of shortening in 5 specimens (mean=2.0725, SD=±2.5338). All 12 specimens experienced widening by 10mm fibula shortening (Mean=7.2133mm, SD=±2.2061). All specimens reached complete dislocation by 35mm fibula shortening. Results of ANOVA analysis found the data statistically significant (p<0.0001).
Conclusion: This study shows that shortening of the fibula causes a significant lateral translation of the talus provided the ATFL remains intact. Furthermore, the interaction of the fibula notch with the ATFL tubercle of the tibia appears to cause a disproportionate widening of the medial clear space due to its differential in size. Knowledge of the extent of fibula shortening can guide further intervention when presented with a patient experiencing medial clear space widening following treatment of an ankle fracture.
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