The present prospective study examined the utility of the intraoperative tap test/technique for distal tibiofibular syndesmosis in the diagnosis of deltoid ligament rupture and compared the outcomes of transsyndesmotic fixation to deltoid ligament repair with suture anchor. This diagnostic technique was performed in 59 ankle fractures with suspected deltoid ligament injury. The width of the medial clear space of 59 cases was evaluated to assess the sensitivity and specificity. Those with deltoid ligament rupture were randomly assigned to 2 groups and treated with deltoid ligament repair with a suture anchor or with syndesmosis screw fixation. All the patients were assessed with the American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society (AOFAS) ankle-hindfoot scale, short-form 36-item questionnaire (SF-36), and visual analog scale (VAS). The tap test was positive in 53 cases. However, surgical exploration demonstrated that 51 cases (86.4%) had a combined deltoid ligament injury and fracture. The sensitivity and specificity of the tap test was 100.0% and 75.0%, respectively. Finally, 26 cases (96.3%) in the syndesmosis screw group and 22 (91.7%) in the deltoid repair group were followed up. No statistically significant differences were found in the AOFAS ankle-hindfoot scale score, SF-36 score, or VAS score between the 2 groups. The malreduction rate in the syndesmosis screw group was 34.6% and that in the deltoid repair group was 9.09%. The tap test is an intraoperative diagnostic method to use to evaluate for deltoid ligament injury. Deltoid ligament repair with a suture anchor had good functional and radiologic outcomes comparable to those with syndesmotic screw fixation but has a lower malreduction rate. We did not encounter the issue of internal fixation failure or implant removal.
Level of Clinical Evidence
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Published online: April 13, 2018
Financial Disclosure: None reported.
Conflict of Interest: None reported.
© 2017 by the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons. All rights reserved.