Identifying the Potential Role of Regional Bone Mineral Density on the Degree of Malleolar Involvement in Acute Ankle Fractures

Published:August 31, 2022DOI:


      Ankle fractures are a common traumatic lower extremity injury and are generally classified and characterized by the rotational mechanism of injury. At each malleolus (i.e., posterior, medial, and lateral) a fracture can occur or a ligamentous injury may be sustained. The purpose of this retrospective study was to determine if bone mineral density is a contributing factor on the number of fractured malleoli versus soft tissue injury in adult ankle fractures. Data was obtained from a registry of ankle fractures that were operatively treated by the foot and ankle team throughout our institutional facilities, from July 2017 to August 2019, and in which a preoperative computerized tomography scan was performed. Regional bone mineral density (BMD) was measured by calculating the average Hounsfield Unit (HU) on axial computerized tomography images of the distal fibula and tibia. The average HU was then compared to the number of fractured malleoli. One hundred eight patients met the study criteria. We identified statistically significant relationships between decreased BMD with increasing age (p < .01) and the male gender (p < .01). After adjusting for the covariates age and gender, no statistically significant relationship was identified between BMD and the number of malleoli involved in a given ankle fracture (p = .11). These findings suggest that while more investigation is required for ankle fracture patterns and BMD evaluation, increased age and biologic female gender is significantly related to decreased BMD as identified via HU.


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