To assess short-term functional results in 2 types of syn-desmotic fixation, comparing the traditional rigid quadricortical syndesmotic screw fixation with a more dynamic tricortical screw fixation.
Prospective, randomized clinical study.
University clinic, level 1 trauma center.
Sixty-four patients with closed ankle fractures in which the syndesmosis was found to be unstable intraoperatively.
The unstable syndesmoses were fixed with either one 4.5-mm cortical screw through both tibial cortices (n = 30) or two 3.5-mm cortical screws engaging only 1 cortex of the tibia (n = 34). The quadricortical screws were routinely removed after 2 months, whereas the tricortical screws were removed only in the case of discomfort. Rehabilitation was the same in both groups.
The Olerud Molander functional score (0–100) was significantly higher in the tricortical group (77 points) compared with the quadricortical group (66 points) (P = 0.025) at 3 months. After 1 year, however, the functional score was not significantly higher (P = 0.192) in the tricortical group (92.6 points) compared with the quadricortical group (85.7 points). Pain was significantly lower in the tricortical group (P = 0.017) after 3 months, but there was no significant difference after 1 year. There was no significant difference in dorsiflexion between the groups at any point of time. No losses of fixation were detected. The tricortical screws were removed in 2 patients due to migration.
Syndesmosis fixation with 2 tricortical screws is safe and improves early function. After 1 year, however, there were no significant differences between the 2 groups in functional score, pain, and dorsiflexion.