The aim of this study was to investigate the incidence of superficial peroneal nerve (SPN) injury following ankle fracture and to establish whether this differed between those treated by open reduction and internal fixation (ORIF) and those treated nonoperatively in a cast. Two hundred eighty patients who had been treated for an ankle fracture either surgically (ORIF group) or nonoperatively (cast group) were identified. Patients were invited for review, assessed using the AOFAS scoring system, and examined for any evidence of SPN injury. The surgical approach was documented and all fractures were classified according to the Weber classification. A total of 120 patients returned for review; 56 patients from the ORIF group and 64 patients from the cast group. The mean time from injury to review was 2 years (range, 12-36 months). Overall, 18 patients (15%) had a symptomatic SPN injury and these patients had a significantly lower AOFAS score. In the cast group, 9% of patients had painful symptoms from an SPN injury, compared to 21% of patients in the ORIF group (p < .05). No evidence of SPN injury was found in those who had a posterolateral approach to the ankle. Surgeons should be aware that the SPN is at risk during lateral approach to the fibula and that injury to this nerve can frequently be identified as a cause of chronic ankle pain.





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