Several radiographic measurements have been described and are used to determine ligamentous injury in ankle fractures, particularly of the deltoid and syndesmosis complex. Because the accuracy of these radiographic measurements has been questioned, we sought to evaluate their accuracy using magnetic resonance imaging as an indicator for injury. Seventy patients with closed ankle fractures were entered prospectively into the study, and all had standard plain radiographic evaluations before reduction (anteroposterior, lateral, and mortise) and magnetic resonance imaging. Four radiographic measurements were made on initial ankle injury films: tibiofibular clear space on the anteroposterior view, tibiofibular overlap on the anteroposterior and mortise views, and medial clear space on the mortise view. These radiographic measurements and their association with magnetic resonance imaging findings then were analyzed. A medial clear space measurement greater than 4 mm correlated with disruption of the deltoid and the tibiofibular ligaments. We found no association between the tibiofibular clear space and overlap measurements on radiographs with syndesmotic injury on magnetic resonance imaging scans.

Prognostic study, Level II-1 (retrospective study). See the Guidelines for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.

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