Compression screw fixation of the syndesmosis.
BACKGROUND: Screw fixation of syndesmotic injuries facilitates ligament healing and restoration of ankle stability, but little information regarding screw performance is available. This study quantified the reduction obtained with three common 2-screw configurations using different methods of reduction and novel methods of subsequently provoking and measuring diastasis. METHODS: Seven fresh-frozen lower extremities were subjected to 100 N medial and lateral tibia loads with the talus restrained. Tibia displacement, indicative of ankle clear space, was recorded. The syndesmosis and distal interosseous ligament were disrupted and measurements repeated. A pressure sensor was inserted into the syndesmosis and three 2-screw fixation methods were evaluated in each specimen: 3.5-mm screws engaging both fibula cortices and the lateral tibial cortex, inserted while using a clamp to achieve syndesmosis reduction; 3.5-mm lag screws engaging both tibia cortices; and 4.5-mm lag screws engaging both tibia cortices. One thousand 100 N medial and lateral loads were applied and clear space and syndesmosis compression were quantified every 100 cycles. RESULTS: Normal ankle clear space averaged 1.98 mm and increased to 3.02 mm after syndesmosis disruption. Fixation decreased the clear space to 1.36 mm, 1.22 mm, and 1.19 mm for the 3.5-mm tricortical, 3.5-mm lag, and 4.5-mm lag screws, respectively, remaining steady throughout cyclic loading. Syndesmosis compression dropped markedly from 61N to 23 N on clamp release after tricortical screw insertion. The 3.5-mm and 4.5-mm lag screws exerted 112 N and 131 N, respectively, after insertion, and maintained compression several-fold greater than the tricortical screws during cyclic loading. No difference was demonstrable between the two lag screw sizes. CONCLUSION: While all screw configurations successfully reduced ankle clear space, syndesmosis reduction was more effectively maintained by lag screws than by tricortical screws inserted with clamp reduction. The transient nature of compression achieved by the reduction clamp suggests that use of lag screws for this application may more reliably maintain syndesmosis reduction in vivo. CLINICAL RELEVANCE: Optimizing reduction of syndesmosis injuries is critical for favorable outcomes. This study offers concrete information on screw performance in this application.
Darwish, HH; Glisson, RR; DeOrio, JK
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