Adult ankle fractures: Comparison of plain films and interactive two- and three-dimensional CT scans

D. Magid, J. D. Michelson, D. R. Ney, E. K. Fishman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Scopus citations


Thirteen patients with 15 ankle fractures potentially requiring surgical reduction according to plain film criteria were studied with transaxial CT, from which static and animated interactive two-dimensional (2-D) images and animated volumetric three-dimensional (3-D) images were generated. CT criteria believed to parallel well-accepted plain film criteria for triage of ankle fractures were developed and applied. The tibiofibular, talofibular, and tibiotalar articulations were characterized and, where possible (nine cases), compared with the (presumably normal) contralateral ankle. Talocrural angle measurements were made on interactive coronal measurements and compared with standard plain film measurements. Fracture fragment displacement, rotation, and impaction were noted. Posterior tibial lip disruption was quantified. Information derived from the 2-D/3-D CT study led to cancellation of proposed surgery in three of the distal fibular fractures and in two distal tibial fractures. There was far less variation than anticipated between the talocrural angles of the injured and normal ankles, and both injured and normal ankles deviated significantly from the accepted standard of 84°. Displacement at the level of the fibular fracture was a poor predictor of more distal disruption. Two-dimensional CT was found to provide anatomic detail and information superior to either plain film or 3-D CT; 3-D CT was preferred by the surgeons for final surgical planning and for integration of the 2-D data. CT altered management in five of the 13 patients studied, supporting our belief that 2-D/3-D CT can be of significant value in assessing ankle fractures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1017-1023
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Roentgenology
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1990

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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