Novel anatomical reconstruction of distal tibiofibular ligaments restores syndesmotic biomechanics

Abstract

Purpose

To date, there is a paucity of literature on syndesmotic reconstruction techniques that restore both anatomic stability and physiologic syndesmotic biomechanics. In this cadaveric study, (1) a novel syndesmotic reconstruction surgical technique using autogenous peroneus brevis tendon was described and (2) the biomechanical properties of the reconstruction was investigated.

Methods

Ten fresh-frozen lower extremities were used in this study. Reconstruction of the anterior and posterior, as well as the interosseous tibiofibular ligaments was performed with a halved peroneus brevis tendon. Biomechanics were assessed using foot external rotation torque and ankle dorsiflexion axial loading tests, which were performed in (a) intact, (b) cut, (c) anatomically reconstructed syndesmotic ligaments, and (d) 3.5 mm tricortical syndesmotic screw fixation. Medial–lateral and anterior–posterior displacements of the distal fibula were recorded during foot external rotation and fibular axial displacement was recorded during ankle axial loading.

Results

The fibula was displaced posteriorly and proximally with respect to the tibia in all specimens during external rotation and axial loading tests, respectively. Significant differences (p < 0.05) were found in distal fibular displacements between anatomically reconstructed ligaments and screw fixation. Tricortical syndesmotic screw fixation resulted in 59% of posterior fibular displacement when compared to intact ligaments. No significant differences (n.s.) in distal fibular displacement were demonstrated between intact ligaments and anatomically reconstructed ligaments.

Conclusion

Anatomical reconstruction of the distal tibiofibular ligaments with the peroneus brevis tendon provides stability and recreates the biomechanical properties of an intact syndesmosis. This new surgical technique may be a viable alternative for the treatment of syndesmotic injuries.

Level of evidence

V.

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Acknowledgements

We acknowledged Institute of Applied Mechanics and Biomedical Engineering of Taiyuan University of Technology for their assistance in biomechanical study.

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Correspondence to Jian Che or Yujie Liu.

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Additional information

Jian Che and Chunbao Li contributed equally to this paper.

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Che, J., Li, C., Gao, Z. et al. Novel anatomical reconstruction of distal tibiofibular ligaments restores syndesmotic biomechanics. Knee Surg Sports Traumatol Arthrosc 25, 1866–1872 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00167-017-4485-y

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Keywords

  • Anatomical reconstruction
  • Surgical technique
  • Distal tibiofibular ligaments
  • Syndesmosis
  • Biomechanical cadaveric study