Posterior malleolar ankle fractures: Predictors of outcome

Robin P. Blom, Batur Hayat, Rami M.A. Al-Dirini, Inger Sierevelt, Gino M.M.J. Kerkhoffs, J. Carel Goslings, Ruurd L. Jaarsma, Job N. Doornberg, EF3X-trial Study Group

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


Aims The primary aim of this study was to address the hypothesis that fracture morphology might be more important than posterior malleolar fragment size in rotational type posterior malleolar ankle fractures (PMAFs). The secondary aim was to identify clinically important predictors of outcome for each respective PMAF-type, to challenge the current dogma that surgical decision-making should be based on fragment size. Methods This observational prospective cohort study included 70 patients with operatively treated rotational type PMAFs, respectively: 23 Haraguchi Type I (large posterolateral-oblique), 22 Type II (two-part posterolateral and posteromedial), and 25 (avulsion-) Type III. There was no standardized protocol on how to address the PMAFs and CT-imaging was used to classify fracture morphology and quality of postoperative syndesmotic reduction. Quantitative 3D-CT (Q3DCT) was used to assess the quality of fracture reduction, respectively: the proportion of articular involvement; residual intra-articular: gap, step-off, and 3D-displacement; and residual gap and step-off at the fibular notch. These predictors were correlated with the Foot and Ankle Outcome Score (FAOS) at two-years follow-up. Results Bivariate analyses revealed that fracture morphology (p = 0.039) as well as fragment size (p = 0.007) were significantly associated with the FAOS. However, in multivariate analyses, fracture morphology (p = 0.001) (but not fragment size (p = 0.432)) and the residual intra-articular gap(s) (p = 0.009) were significantly associated. Haraguchi Type-II PMAFs had poorer FAOS scores compared with Types I and III. Multivariate analyses identified the following independent predictors: step-off in Type I; none of the Q3DCT-measurements in Type II, and quality of syndesmotic reduction in small-avulsion Type III PMAFs. Conclusion PMAFs are three separate entities based on fracture morphology, with different predictors of outcome for each PMAF type. The current debate on whether or not to fix PMAFs needs to be refined to determine which morphological subtype benefits from fixation. In PMAFs, fracture morphology should guide treatment instead of fragment size.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1229-1241
Number of pages13
JournalThe bone & joint journal
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2020


  • Ankle
  • Computed tomography
  • Fracture
  • Gap
  • Outcome
  • Posterior malleolus
  • Predictors
  • Quantitative fracture mapping
  • Step-off


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