Being commonly missed in the clinical practice, Lisfranc injuries can lead to arthritis and long-term complications. There are controversial opinions about the contribution of the main stabilizers of the joint. Moreover, the role of the ligament that connects the medial cuneiform (MC) and the third metatarsal (MT3) is not well investigated. The aim of this study was to investigate the influence of different Lisfranc ligament injuries on CT findings under two specified loads.
Sixteen fresh-frozen human cadaveric lower limbs were embedded in PMMA at mid-shaft of the tibia and placed in a weight-bearing radiolucent frame for CT scanning. All intact specimens were initially scanned under 7.5 kg and 70 kg loads in neutral foot position. A dorsal approach was then used for sequential ligaments cutting: first – the dorsal and the (Lisfranc) interosseous ligaments; second – the plantar ligament between the MC and MT3; third – the plantar Lisfranc ligament between the MC and the MT2. All feet were rescanned after each cutting step under the two loads.
The average distances between MT1 and MT2 in the intact feet under 7.5 kg and 70 kg loads were 0.77 mm and 0.82 mm, whereas between MC and MT2 they were 0.61 mm and 0.80 mm, without any signs of misalignment or dorsal displacement of MT2. A slight increase in the distances MT1-MT2 (0.89 mm; 0.97 mm) and MC-MT2 (0.97 mm; 1.13 mm) was observed after the first disruption of the dorsal and the interosseous ligaments under 7.5 kg and 70 kg loads. A further increase in MT1-MT2 and MC-MT2 distances was registered after the second disruption of the ligament between MC and MT3. The largest distances MT1-MT2 (1.5 mm; 1.95 mm) and MC-MT2 (1.74 mm; 2.35 mm) were measured after the final plantar Lisfranc ligament cut under the two loads. In contrast to the previous two the previous two cuts, misalignment and dorsal displacement of 1.25 mm were seen at this final disrupted stage.
The minimal pathological increase in the distances MT1-MT2 and MC-MT2 is an important indicator for ligamentous Lisfranc injury. Dorsal displacement and misalignment of the second metatarsal in the CT scans identify severe ligamentous Lisfranc injury. The plantar Lisfranc ligament between the medial cuneiform and the second metatarsal seems to be the strongest stabilizer of the Lisfranc joint. Partial lesion of the Lisfranc ligaments requires high clinical suspicion as it can be easily missed.