Send to

Choose Destination
Invest Radiol. 1997 Jul;32(7):401-9.

Magnetic resonance imaging in the diagnosis of acute injured distal tibiofibular syndesmosis.

Author information

Department of Radiology, Humboldt-University of Berlin, Germany.



This study assessed the diagnostic potential of magnetic resonance imaging for the evaluation of the tibiofibular syndesmosis.


A total of 38 patients with an acute ankle trauma and clinical suspicion of a syndesmotic tear were prospectively studied with conventional plain film radiography and magnetic resonance imaging. Magnetic resonance imaging studies included plain T1-weighted (T1-w) and T2-weighted (T2-w) sequences and contrast-enhanced T1-w sequences 0 to 3 days after trauma. All images were read by two independent radiologists before surgical intervention. Sensitivity and specificity were determined for the two observers and the concordance of the two observers were calculated using the interobserver analysis (Kappa-Test). Intraoperative inspection (n = 21) revealed rupture of the anterior tibiofibular ligament (ATIF) in 15 patients, intact ATIF in 6 patients, and intact posterior tibiofibular ligament (PTIF) in 21 cases. Clinical and follow-up examinations revealed an intact syndesmotic complex in another 17 patients.


Primary diagnostic criteria for diagnosing a ligamentous tear included tibiofibular diastasis in conventional plain films; nonvisualization of the ATIF; an abnormal course, a wavy, irregular contour of the ligament; increased signal intensity of the ligament in T2-w sequences, in plain T1-w sequence, and marked enhancement in T1-w after contrast. Important secondary signs were defined as joint fluid in the tibiofibular space and prolapse of interspace fat. Highest diagnostic accuracy was achieved if three or more diagnostic criteria could be visualized. Both readers performed best with the enhanced T1-weighted and the T2-weighted images in transverse orientation. The interobserver analysis resulted in high concordance: Kappa = 0.9 (confidence interval: 0.76 to 1.00) for all patients, and in Kappa = 0.76 (confidence interval: 0.45 to 1.0) for surgically treated patients.


Magnetic resonance imaging of the syndesmotic complex is a highly sensitive and specific tool for the pretherapeutic-evaluation of syndesmotic injury.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Wolters Kluwer
Loading ...
Support Center