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Foot & Ankle

Characteristics and classification of medial malleolar fractures

a study based on CT fracture mapping

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The morphology of medial malleolar fracture is highly variable and difficult to characterize without 3D reconstruction. There is also no universally accepeted classification system. Thus, we aimed to characterize fracture patterns of the medial malleolus and propose a classification scheme based on 3D CT reconstruction.


We retrospectively reviewed 537 consecutive cases of ankle fractures involving the medial malleolus treated in our institution. 3D fracture maps were produced by superimposing all the fracture lines onto a standard template. We sliced fracture fragments and the standard template based on selected sagittal and coronal planes to create 2D fracture maps, where angles α and β were measured. Angles α and β were defined as the acute angles formed by the fracture line and the horizontal line on the selected planes.


A total of 121 ankle fractures were included. We revealed several important fracture features, such as a high correlation between posterior collicular fractures and posteromedial fragments. Moreover, we generalized the fracture geometry into three recurrent patterns on the coronal view of 3D maps (transverse, vertical, and irregular) and five recurrent patterns on the lateral view (transverse, oblique, vertical, Y-shaped, and irregular). According to the fracture geometry on the coronal and lateral view of 3D maps, we subsequently categorized medial malleolar fractures into six types based on the recurrent patterns: anterior collicular fracture (27 type I, 22.3%), posterior collicular fracture (12 type II, 9.9%), concurrent fracture of anterior and posterior colliculus (16 type III, 13.2%), and supra-intercollicular groove fracture (66 type IV, 54.5%). Therewere three variants of type IV fractures: transverse (type IVa), vertical (type IVb), and comminuted fracture (type IVc). The angles α and β varied accordingly.


Our findings yield insight into the characteristics and recurrent patterns of medial malleolar fractures. The proposed classification system is helpful in understanding injury mechanisms and guiding diagnosis, as well as surgical strategies.

Cite this article: Bone Joint J 2021;103-B(5):931–938.

Correspondence should be sent to Baoguo Jiang. E-mail:

Y. Liu, H. Lu, and H. Xu contributed equally to this work.

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