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A prospective, randomised trial comparing the use of absorbable and metallic screws in the fixation of distal tibiofibular syndesmosis injuries

mid-term follow-up

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Our aim was to compare polylevolactic acid screws with titanium screws when used for fixation of the distal tibiofibular syndesmosis at mid-term follow-up. A total of 168 patients, with a mean age of 38.5 years (18 to 72) who were randomly allocated to receive either polylevolactic acid (n = 86) or metallic (n = 82) screws were included. The Baird scoring system was used to assess the overall satisfaction and functional recovery post-operatively. The demographic details and characteristics of the injury were similar in the two groups. The mean follow-up was 55.8 months (48 to 66). The Baird scores were similar in the two groups at the final follow-up. Patients in the polylevolactic acid group had a greater mean dorsiflexion (p = 0.011) and plantar-flexion of the injured ankles (p < 0.001). In the same group, 18 patients had a mild and eight patients had a moderate foreign body reaction. In the metallic groups eight had mild and none had a moderate foreign body reaction (p <  0.001). In total, three patients in the polylevolactic acid group and none in the metallic group had heterotopic ossification (p = 0.246).

We conclude that both screws provide adequate fixation and functional recovery, but polylevolactic acid screws are associated with a higher incidence of foreign body reactions.

Cite this article: Bone Joint J 2014;96-B:548–54.

Correspondence should be sent to Dr B. Zhong; e-mail:

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