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Scientific Article   |    
Treatment of Syndesmotic Disruptions of the Ankle with Bioabsorbable Screw Fixation
W. David Hovis, MD; Bryan W. Kaiser, MD; Jeffry T. Watson, MD; Robert W. Bucholz, MD
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Investigation performed at the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, and Parkland Memorial Hospital, Dallas, Texas

W. David Hovis, MD
Hovis Orthopaedic Clinic, 501 19th Street, Suite 702, Knoxville, TN 37916

Bryan W. Kaiser, MD
Robert W. Bucholz, MD
Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, University of Texas Southwestern Medical School, 5323 Harry Hines Boulevard, Dallas, TX 75235-8883
Jeffry T. Watson, MD
Anderson Orthopaedic Clinic, 2000 East Greeneville, Suite 3700, Anderson, SC 29621

The authors did not receive grants or outside funding in support of their research or preparation of this manuscript. They did not receive payments or other benefits or a commitment or agreement to provide such benefits from a commercial entity. No commercial entity paid or directed, or agreed to pay or direct, any benefits to any research fund, foundation, educational institution, or other charitable or nonprofit organization with which the authors are affiliated or associated.

A video supplement to this article is available from the Video Journal of Orthopaedics. A video clip is available at the JBJS web site, www.jbjs.org. The Video Journal of Orthopaedics can be contacted at (805) 962-3410, web site: www.vjortho.com.

J Bone Joint Surg Am, 2002 Jan 01;84(1):26-31
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Abstract

Background: Bioabsorbable implants have restricted indications because of their unique biochemical properties and their inferior biomechanical properties compared with those of conventional metallic implants. The purpose of this prospective study was to assess the efficacy of screws made of polylevolactic acid (PLLA) in the treatment of syndesmotic disruptions associated with ankle fractures and fracture-dislocations.

Methods: Thirty-three consecutive patients with a syndesmotic disruption were managed with standard metallic plate-and-screw fixation of the malleolar fracture and with 4.5-mm polylevolactic acid screws, with purchase in four cortices, for fixation of the syndesmosis. Intraoperative radiographs confirmed reduction of the syndesmosis, and all of the patients were managed with a non-weight-bearing plaster splint or brace for six weeks. Clinical and radiographic assessment and functional evaluation with use of the Olerud-Molander scoring system were performed at the time of follow-up.

Results: Ten patients were lost to follow-up prior to the twenty-four-month evaluation, leaving twenty-three patients with an average duration of follow-up of thirty-four months (range, twenty-four to forty-three months). All of the malleolar fractures healed in an anatomical position at an average of three months, and no postoperative displacement of the syndesmosis or widening of the medial clear space was detectable on radiographs. No episodes of osteolysis or late inflammation secondary to the hydrolyzed polylactide occurred. Nineteen patients (83%) had an excellent result, and four patients (17%) had a good result. All twenty-three patients returned to their preinjury level of work and activities of daily living. No patient had malunion, nonunion, loss of reduction, or complications attributable to the biomechanical or biochemical properties of the implants.

Conclusions: Polylevolactic acid screws are effective in stabilizing disruption of the syndesmosis during healing of unstable ankle fractures. In this small series, the bioabsorbable screw was well tolerated, and there was no need for a second operation to remove it.

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    Accreditation Statement
    These activities have been planned and implemented in accordance with the Essential Areas and policies of the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) through the joint sponsorship of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, Inc. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons is accredited by the ACCME to provide continuing medical education for physicians.
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