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J Bone Joint Surg Br. 2007 Aug;89(8):1055-9.

The use of gravity or manual-stress radiographs in the assessment of supination-external rotation fractures of the ankle.

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Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Loyola University Medical Centre, Maywood, Il 60153, USA.


Supination-external rotation (SER) fractures of the ankle may present with a medial ligamentous injury that is not apparent on the initial radiographs. A cadaver gravity-stress view has been described, but the manual-stress view is considered to be the examination of choice for the diagnosis of medial injuries. We prospectively compared the efficacy of these two examinations. We undertook both examinations in 29 patients with SER fractures. Of these, 16 (55%) were stress-positive, i.e. and had widening of the medial clear space of > 4 mm with a mean medial clear space of 6.09 mm (4.4 to 8.1) on gravity-stress and 5.81 mm (4.0 to 8.2) on manual-stress examination, and 13 patients (45%) were stress-negative with a mean medial clear space of 3.91 mm (3.3 to 5.1) and 3.61 mm (2.6 to 4.5) on examination of gravity- and manual-stress respectively. The mean absolute visual analgoue scale score for discomfort in the examination of gravity stress was 3.45 (1 to 6) and in the manual-stress procedure 6.14 (3 to 10). We have shown that examination of gravity-stress is as reliable and perceived as more comfortable than that of manual stress. We recommend using it as the initial diagnostic screening examination for the detection of occult medial ligamentous injuries in SER fractures of the ankle.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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