The present retrospective study assessed the complications and loss of reduction in 126 patients aged 16 years or older who bore weight in a short leg cast within 15 days after surgical repair of acute unilateral closed ankle fractures from January 1997 to December 2003. Fracture reduction was assessed on immediate postoperative and weightbearing digital radiographs at least 6 weeks after surgery. The medical records were reviewed for postoperative complications. Complete radiographs were available for 81 patients. The mean follow-up period was 171 (range 42 to 1275) days. The mean patient age was 50 years. Patients began walking an average of 8 days after surgery. From the medical record review, no cases of malunion or nonunion occurred. A total of 14 complications developed in 12 (9.5%) of 126 patients, including a delay in wound healing in 6, nerve paresthesia in 5, and hardware migration in 1. The patients aged 60 years or older had a slightly greater overall complication rate (6 of 38, p = .18). Patients who walked on postoperative day 1 had slightly more wound problems (2 of 19, p = .36). Of the 81 ankle fracture radiographs, 80 (98.8%) showed no displacement in fracture reduction on the final follow-up examination. One patient had a 2-mm loss of fracture reduction and was allowed to walk on postoperative day 1 (p = .09). These results support early protected weightbearing after operative treatment of closed isolated lateral malleolar and bimalleolar ankle fractures without syndesmotic involvement in patients of all ages.





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