Publication: Arthroscopy: The Journal of Arthroscopic and Related Surgery

Date: June 2013

Authors: Drakos M, Behrens SB, Mulcahey MK, Paller D, Hoffman E, DiGiovanni CW

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To examine the anatomy of the lateral ankle after arthroscopic repair of the lateral ligament complex (anterior talofibular ligament [ATFL] and calcaneofibular ligament [CFL]) with regard to structures at risk.


Ten lower extremity cadaveric specimens were obtained and were screened for gross anatomic defects and pre-existing ankle laxity. The ATFL and CFL were sectioned from the fibula by an open technique. Standard anterolateral and anteromedial arthroscopy portals were made. An additional portal was created 2 cm distal to the anterolateral portal. The articular surface of the fibula was identified, and the ATFL and CFL were freed from the superficial and deeper tissues. Suture anchors were placed in the fibula at the ATFL and CFL origins and were used to repair the origin of the lateral collateral structures. The distance from the suture knot to several local anatomic structures was measured. Measurements were taken by 2 separate observers, and the results were averaged.


Several anatomic structures lie in close proximity to the ATFL and CFL sutures. The ATFL sutures entrapped 9 of 55 structures, and no anatomic structures were inadvertently entrapped by the CFL sutures. The proximity of the peroneus tertius and the extensor tendons to the ATFL makes them at highest risk of entrapment, but the proximity of the intermediate branch of the superficial peroneal nerve (when present) is a risk with significant morbidity.


Our results indicate that the peroneus tertius and extensor tendons have the highest risk for entrapment and show the smallest mean distances from the anchor knot to the identified structure. Careful attention to these structures, as well as the superficial peroneal nerve, is mandatory to prevent entrapment of tendons and nerves when one is attempting arthroscopic lateral ankle ligament reconstruction.


Defining the anatomic location and proximity of the intervening structures adjacent to the lateral ligament complex of the ankle may help clarify the anatomic safe zone through which arthroscopic repair of the lateral ligament complex can be safely performed.

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