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Ankle Fracture/Broken ankle

Diagnosis and treatment

Besides a physical exam, X-rays are the most common way to evaluate an injured ankle. X-rays may be taken of the leg, ankle, and foot to make sure nothing else is injured.

Sometimes, a computed tomography (CT, or CAT) scan is done. In some injuries, an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scan is ordered to look at the ligaments around the ankle.

Sometimes, non operative treatment is possible. This is when the fracture is minimally or undisplaced (the bones are still where they should be). In these cases, the fracture can be protected with a number of different methods, ranging from a Cam Boot to a short leg cast. The exact treatment required depends on a number of factors including the exact site of the fracture. The surgeon will determine the most appropriate treatment.

Surgical Treatment

If the fracture is displaced or the ankle is unstable, then surgery is usually required. To make the ankle stable, a plate and screws on the side of the bone or a screw or rod inside the bone might be used to re-align the bone fragments and keep them together as they heal. Different wiring techniques may also be used.

Sometimes, the fracture can include “impaction,” or indenting of the ankle joint. This can require bone grafting to repair it, in order to lower any later risk of developing arthritis.

Repeat X-rays will be required regularly to make sure the fracture does not change in position.

As with any surgery, there are risks. General surgical risks include infection, bleeding, pain, blood clots in the leg, and damage to blood vessels, tendons or nerves.

Specific risks associated with the treatment of ankle fractures include difficulty with bone healing, arthritis, and pain from the plates and screws that are used to fix fracture. Some patients choose to have these removed several months after their fracture heals.

Smoking will slow your healing.

Book a Consultation
  • The Mater Hospital, Sydney, North Sydney
  • Shellharbour Private Hospital
  • Nowra Private Hospital
  • Shoalhaven District Memorial Hospital
  • The Royal College of Surgeons
  • Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh
  • Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS)
  • Australian Orthopaedic Association (AOA)
  • American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS)
  • Medical Board of Australia
  • General Medical Council
  • Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
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