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Medicine (Baltimore). 2020 Mar;99(11):e19436. doi: 10.1097/MD.0000000000019436.

Is it necessary to remove syndesmotic screw before weight-bearing ambulation?

Moon YJ1,2, Kim DH1,2, Lee KB1,2.

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Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Research Institute of Clinical Medicine of Jeonbuk National University.
Biomedical Research Institute of Jeonbuk National University Hospital Jeonbuk National University Medical School, Jeonju, Korea.


In syndesmosis injury, whether the syndesmosis screw should be removed prior to weight-bearing remains controversial. The aim of this study was to compare the functional outcome between removed screw and retained groups and between recurrence of diastasis and no diastasis groups.Fifty-six patients who had undergone open reduction and internal fixation due to syndesmosis injury were retrospectively evaluated and divided into four groups: (A) removed syndesmotic screw before weight-bearing (postoperative 3 months, n = 28), (B)retained (n = 28), (C) recurrence of diastasis (n = 9), and (D) no diastasis (n = 47). Radiological diastasis, American Orthopedic Foot Ankle Society Score (AOFAS), Short Form Health Survey-12 (SF-12), and complications (screw loosening and breakage) were evaluated between groups.AOFAS ankle-hindfoot score was 75.10 ± 10.40 in group A, 77.07 ± 10.60 in group B. SF-12 was 45.78 ± 5.68 in group A and 47.33 ± 5.83 in group B, showing no significant difference in AOFAS ankle-hindfoot score or SF-12 (P = .487, P = .319, respectively) between groups A and B. Radiological diastasis developed significantly (P = .025) more in group A (8/28) compared to that in group B (1/28). However, screw loosening or breakage developed significantly (P = .001) more in group B (4/28) compared to that in group A (0/28). AOFAS ankle-hindfoot score was 70.33 ± 6.22 in group C and 76.50 ± 10.26 in group D. SF-12 was 49.85 ± 3.83 in group C and 47.40 ± 8.01 in group D, showing no significant difference between groups C and D in AOFAS ankle-hindfoot score or SF-12 (P = .808, P = .948, respectively).Removal of syndesmotic screw before weight-bearing does not influence clinical outcomes. Although unrelated to clinical progress, recurrence of diastasis significantly increased in screw removed group. Therefore, removal of syndesmotic screw is unnecessary before weight-bearing.

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