Knee Surgery, Sports Traumatology, Arthroscopy

, Volume 24, Issue 7, pp 2089–2102 | Cite as

Magnetic resonance imaging characterization of individual ankle syndesmosis structures in asymptomatic and surgically treated cohorts

  • Thomas O. Clanton
  • Charles P. HoEmail author
  • Brady T. Williams
  • Rachel K. Surowiec
  • Coley C. Gatlin
  • C. Thomas Haytmanek
  • Robert F. LaPrade



Historically, syndesmosis injuries have been underdiagnosed. The purpose of this study was to characterize the 3.0-T MRI presentations of the distal tibiofibular syndesmosis and its individual structures in both asymptomatic and injured cohorts.


Ten age-matched asymptomatic volunteers were imaged to characterize the asymptomatic syndesmotic anatomy. A series of 21 consecutive patients with a pre-operative 3.0-T ankle MRI and subsequent arthroscopic evaluation for suspected syndesmotic injury were reviewed and analysed. Prospectively collected pre-operative MRI findings were correlated with arthroscopy to assess diagnostic accuracy [sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value (PPV), and negative predictive value (NPV)].


Pathology diagnosed on pre-operative MRI correlated strongly with arthroscopic findings. Syndesmotic ligament disruption was prospectively diagnosed on MRI with excellent sensitivity, specificity, PPV, NPV, and accuracy: anterior inferior tibiofibular ligament (87.5, 100, 100, 71.4, 90.5 %); posterior inferior tibiofibular ligament (N/A, 95.2, 0.0, 100, 95.2 %); and interosseous tibiofibular ligament (66.7, 86.7, 66.7, 86.7, 81.0 %).


Pre-operative 3.0-T MRI demonstrated excellent accuracy in the diagnosis of syndesmotic ligament tears and allowed for the visualization of relevant individual syndesmosis structures. Using a standard clinical ankle MRI protocol at 3.0-T, associated ligament injuries could be readily identified. Clinical implementation of optimal high-field MRI sequences in a standard clinical ankle MRI exam can aid in the diagnosis of syndesmotic injuries, augment pre-operative planning, and facilitate anatomic repair by providing additional details regarding the integrity of individual syndesmotic structures not discernible through physical examination and radiographic assessments.

Level of evidence



Syndesmosis ligament tears Anatomy Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) Arthroscopy Diagnostics (sensitivity, specificity, NPV, PPV) 


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Copyright information

© European Society of Sports Traumatology, Knee Surgery, Arthroscopy (ESSKA) 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thomas O. Clanton
    • 1
    • 2
  • Charles P. Ho
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Brady T. Williams
    • 1
  • Rachel K. Surowiec
    • 1
  • Coley C. Gatlin
    • 1
    • 2
  • C. Thomas Haytmanek
    • 1
    • 2
  • Robert F. LaPrade
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Departments of BioMedical Engineering and Imaging ResearchSteadman Philippon Research InstituteVailUSA
  2. 2.The Steadman ClinicVailUSA

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