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Foot Ankle Int. 2016 Jun;37(6):627-35. doi: 10.1177/1071100716634757. Epub 2016 Feb 27.

Rotational Dynamics of the Normal Distal Tibiofibular Joint With Weight-Bearing Computed Tomography.

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Department of Radiology, Oulu University and University Hospital, Oulu, Finland
Department of Radiology, Oulu University and University Hospital, Oulu, Finland.
Division of Orthopedic and Trauma Surgery, Department of Surgery, Oulu University Hospital, Oulu, Finland.



The normal distal tibiofibular joint is strongly stabilized by the syndesmosis, where previous cadaveric, biomechanical studies demonstrated only minimal widening and posterior translation of the fibula in external rotation of the ankle. However, little is known about normal rotational dynamics of the distal tibiofibular joint in upright weight-bearing conditions. The purpose of this study was to investigate the normal anatomy and rotational dynamics of the distal tibiofibular joint under physiological conditions on weight-bearing cone beam computed tomography (WBCT).


In a cross-sectional study of 32 subjects, low-dose WBCT scans of uninjured bilateral ankles were performed. Normal intersubject and intrasubject variation in neutral position and changes in maximal internal and external rotation of the ankle were studied. Sagittal translation of the fibula, anterior and posterior widths of the distal tibiofibular syndesmosis, tibiofibular clear space (TFCS), and rotation of the fibula were measured.


In the neutrally loaded ankle, the fibula was located anteriorly in the tibial incisura in 88% of the subjects. When the ankle was rotated, mean anteroposterior motion was 1.5 mm and mean rotation of the fibula was 3 degrees. There was no significant change in TFCS between internal and external rotation. Large intersubject variation was detected, but intrasubject variation between ankles was less than 1 mm and 1 degree.


This study provides reference values to evaluate the dynamics of the normal distal tibiofibular joint. The internal control of the contralateral ankle seemed to be a better reference than the population-based normal values.


The current study provides the reference values to evaluate the rotational dynamics of a normal distal tibiofibular joint.


ankle; cone-beam computed tomography; distal tibiofibular joint; syndesmosis; weight-bearing

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