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Functional outcomes following syndesmotic screw fixation- a comparison of screw removal versus retention

Publication Type : Journal Article

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Campus : Kochi

School : School of Medicine

Department : Orthopaedics

Year : 2020

Abstract :

Background: The incidence of distal tibiofibular syndesmotic injury in ankle fractures is about 13%. The integrity of syndesmosis is a critical factor which stabilizes ankle mortise during weight-bearing besides load transmission. The primary purpose of the study was to assess the functional outcome in patients with Weber B and C fractures and to decide whether the syndesmotic screws are to be removed or not before weight-bearing.

Materials and methods: This was a prospective observational study involving patients (>18 years of age) who had undergone open reduction and internal fixation of an ankle fracture belonging to Weber B or C classification who had screw stabilization of a disrupted syndesmosis. The study period was three years commencing from August 2014. They were divided into two groups based on the syndesmotic screw retention or removal before weight-bearing. The patients were then regularly followed up with American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society (AOFAS) ankle/hindfoot score and Visual Analogue Score-Foot and Ankle (VAS-FA) score were used to assess the functional outcome. Clinical and radiographic evaluations were done with each follow-up at 4,6,9,12 months.

Results: We identified 32 fractures in 32 patients. Treatment undertaken was open reduction and internal fixation for the malleolli and syndesmotic screw fixation in all patients, and syndesmotic screws were removed in 17 and retained in 15. None of the patients were managed conservatively. We lost a patient to long-term follow-up. The AOFAS score was seen to be progressively increasing (92.3 – 96.75) and higher in the removed group as compared to retained. The VAS-FA score was also seen to be increasing besides being higher in the removed group (160.17 to 187). None of the patients failed the operative stabilization. Also, none of the patients had long-term complications like nonunion, mal-union or screw back out excepting one patient who had persistent pain in the retained group.

Conclusion It is safe and better to remove the syndesmotic screw prior to weight bearing, when compared to retaining them insitu. Level of evidence IV-prognostic

Cite this Research Publication : Rahul Thampi, Balu C Babu, Melvin J George, Druvan Shaji, V K Bhaskaran, Chandrababu K K , "Functional outcomes following syndesmotic screw fixation- a comparison of screw removal versus retention.", Volume - 10 | Issue - 12 | December - 2020 | PRINT ISSN No. 2249 - 555X | DOI 10.36106/IJA

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