August 1st, 2009 , J Bone Joint Surg Br

Outcome after fixation of ankle fractures with an injury to the syndesmosis: the effect of the syndesmosis screw 

The purpose of this study was to compare the clinical and radiological outcome of patients with intact, broken and removed syndesmosis screws after Weber B or C ankle fracture with an associated injury to the syndesmosis. We hypothesised that there would be no difference. Of a possible 142 patients who fulfilled our inclusion criteria, 52 returned for clinical and radiological assessment at least one year after surgery. Of these, 27 had intact syndesmosis screws, ten had broken screws, and 15 had undergone elective removal of the screw. The mean American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society ankle/hindfoot score was 83.07 (sd 13.59) in the intact screw group, 92.40 (sd 12.69) in the broken screw group, and 85.80 (sd 11.33) in the removed screw group (p = 0.0466). There was no difference in clinical outcome of patients with intact or removed syndesmotic screws. Paradoxically, patients with a broken syndesmosis screw had the best clinical outcome. Our data do not support the removal of intact or broken syndesmosis screws, and we caution against attributing post-operative ankle pain to breakage of the syndesmosis screw.