Injuries of the lateral collateral ligaments of the ankle: assessment with MR imaging
The aim of this study was to evaluate the ability of MRI to display injuries of the lateral collateral ligamentous complex in patients with an acute ankle distorsion trauma. The MR examinations of 36 patients with ankle pain after ankle distorsion were evaluated retrospectively without knowledge of clinical history, outcome and/or operative findings. The examinations were performed on a 1.5-T whole-body imager using a flexible surface coil. The signs for ligamentous abnormality were as follows: complete or partial discontinuity, increased signal within, and irregularity and waviness of the ligament. The results were compared with operative findings in 18 patients with subsequent surgical repair. Eighteen patients with conservative therapy had a follow-up MR examination after 3 months. There was 1 sprain, 3 partial and 32 complete tears of the anterior talofibular ligament, and 5 sprains, 5 partial, and 7 complete tears of the calcaneofibular ligament. There were no lesions of the posterior talofibular ligament. Compared with surgery, MRI demonstrated in 18 of 18 cases the exact extent of anterior talofibular ligament injuries and underestimated the extent in 2 of 8 cases of calcaneofibular ligament injury. In patients with follow-up MRI after conservative therapy, a thickened band-like structure was found along the course of the injured ligament in 17 of 18 cases. The absence of ligament repair after conservative treatment was confirmed during operative revision in one case. The MRI technique allows for grading of the extent of injury of the lateral collateral ligamentous complex after acute ankle strain. It seems to be suitable for monitoring the healing process after conservative-functional treatment of ligament tears.
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