To determine the functional and radiographic outcome of low Weber C ankle fractures and to evaluate the contribution of the syndesmotic screw in their outcome.
Prospective evaluation of a consecutive series.
Level I trauma center.
Forty-five patients divided into two groups matched for age, sex, and severity of injury. Twenty-six patients were treated with open reduction, internal fixation, and a supplemental syndesmotic screw, and nineteen patients were treated without a syndesmotic screw. Minimum time to follow-up was three years.
A subjective, objective, and radiographic ankle scoring system was used. Logistical regression analysis was performed to determine whether the presence or absence of a syndesmotic screw was a predictor of a poor outcome. The likelihood ratio test was used to evaluate the significance of each variable in both univariate and multivariate analyses.
There was no statistically significant difference between either group, either using subjective outcome criteria (p = 0.86) or in ankle range of motion (p = 0.94). Logistical regression analysis indicated that fracture dislocation could be used as a predictor of a poor outcome for either group. Inadequate reduction and advancing age were also found to be significant predictors of a poorer outcome regardless of the use of a syndesmotic screw (p = 0.003, p = 0.004).
Judicious fixation of Weber C type injuries within five centimeters of the ankle joint, with or without a syndesmotic screw, gives similar results. Obligatory fixation of these fractures with syndesmotic screws appears to have no benefit and creates the need for an additional procedure.