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There are limited data reporting the outcome of patients with non-operatively managed medial malleolus fractures compared to those treated surgically in the presence of fibular stabilisation for unstable fractures of the ankle. Conservative management could result in fewer complications, reduced surgical time and lower cost. The purpose of this study is to determine if any difference exists in patient reported and surgical outcomes 1 year after surgery between operative and non-operative treatment of medial malleolar fractures in combination with stabilisation of the lateral malleolus.
This is a single-centre, prospective, randomised controlled trial that aims to randomise 154 participants with an unstable ankle fracture to ‘non-fixation’ (n = 77) or ‘fixation’ (n = 77) of an associated well-reduced medial malleolus fracture following fibular stabilisation. The study will include patients ≥ 16 years of age with a closed bimalleolar or trimalleolar ankle fracture who are able to consent, complete questionnaires in the English language, and complete follow-up over a 1-year period. Randomisation will occur intra-operatively when the medial malleolus fracture is deemed ‘well-reduced’, with 2 mm or less of fluoroscopic displacement. The technique for fixation of both the medial and lateral malleoli is at the discretion of the operating surgeon. Patient-reported, observer-rated, and radiographic assessments will be collected at baseline and then at the following post-operative assessment points: 2 weeks, 6 weeks and 1 year. Postal questionnaire outcome data will be collected at 3 and 6 months. The primary outcome measure will be the Olerud Molander Ankle Score (OMAS) at 1 year following surgery. Secondary outcome measures will include the Manchester-Oxford Foot Questionnaire (MOXFQ), EuroQol-5D (EQ-5D), pain, treatment satisfaction, time to return to activity, operative tourniquet time, and complications.
There is only one previous randomised trial comparing non-fixation with fixation of associated medial malleolus fractures but that was limited by the lack of baseline patient-reported outcome data and an inferior sample size. This current prospective trial aims to provide high-quality evidence regarding the requirement for medial malleolar fixation in unstable ankle fractures.
ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT03362229. Registered retrospectively on 5 December 2017.