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The Bone & Joint Journal
Vol. 96-B, Issue 12 | Pages 1699 - 1705
1 Dec 2014
Boyle MJ Gao R Frampton CMA Coleman B

Our aim was to compare the one-year post-operative outcomes following retention or removal of syndesmotic screws in adult patients with a fracture of the ankle that was treated surgically. A total of 51 patients (35 males, 16 females), with a mean age of 33.5 years (16 to 62), undergoing fibular osteosynthesis and syndesmotic screw fixation, were randomly allocated to retention of the syndesmotic screw or removal at three months post-operatively. The two groups were comparable at baseline.

One year post-operatively, there was no significant difference in the mean Olerud–Molander ankle score (82.4 retention vs 86.7 removal, p = 0.367), the mean American Orthopedic Foot and Ankle Society ankle-hindfoot score (88.6 vs 90.1, p = 0.688), the mean American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons foot and ankle score (96.3 vs 94.0, p = 0.250), the mean visual analogue pain score (1.0 vs 0.7, p = 0.237), the mean active dorsiflexion (10.2° vs 13.0°, p = 0.194) and plantar flexion (33.6° vs 31.3°, p = 0.503) of the ankle, or the mean radiological tibiofibular clear space (5.0 mm vs 5.3 mm, p = 0.276) between the two groups. A total of 19 patients (76%) in the retention group had a loose and/or broken screw one year post-operatively.

We conclude that removal of a syndesmotic screw produces no significant functional, clinical or radiological benefit in adult patients who are treated surgically for a fracture of the ankle.

Cite this article: Bone Joint J 2014;96-B:1699–1705.