Diagnostic imaging of ankle syndesmosis injuries: A general review

John J. Kellett, Gregory A. Lovell, David A. Eriksen, Matthew J. Sampson

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)


Literature on the various techniques for imaging injuries to the ankle syndesmosis to determine the most appropriate imaging modality for diagnosing syndesmosis ligament disruption and instability was reviewed using the following data sources: Pubmed, Google scholar, SportsDiscus, E-journals and PLOSone. Search terms used were: syndesmosis paired with injury, imaging, radiology, X-ray, stress X-ray, arthrography, ultrasound, nuclear medicine scan, CT scan, MRI and arthroscopy. Articles were selected by reading abstracts and the full article if indicated. Further articles were derived from the references of the primary articles. Plain x-rays of the ankle will detect approximately half on AP view to two-thirds on mortise view of syndesmosis injuries. Syndesmosis injuries frequently occur in association with tibial or fibular fractures. Intra-operative stress radiography failed to detect approximately half of instabilities confirmed at arthroscopy. The current benchmark imaging techniques to diagnose syndesmosis injury and diastasis are arthroscopy and high-power (3T) MRI. Ultrasound is a promising, developing, cost-effective imaging technique which is yet to reach its full diagnostic potential. CT and nuclear medicine scans have limited roles. MRI (3T) scanning in the plane of the syndesmotic ligaments is the investigation of choice to detect ankle syndesmosis injuries. In the presence of associated injuries requiring surgery, arthroscopic viewing with stress examination is the diagnostic benchmark when available.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)159-168
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Medical Imaging and Radiation Oncology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2018
Externally publishedYes


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