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Diagnosis and treatment of acute ankle injuries: development of an evidence-based algorithm

Author(s): Hans Polzer | Karl-Georg Kanz | Wolf Christian Prall | Florian Haasters | Ben Ockert | Wolf Mutschler | Stefan Grote

Journal: Orthopedic Reviews
ISSN 2035-8237

Volume: 4;
Issue: 1;
Date: 2012;
Original page

Keywords: Ankle injury | Ankle sprain | Evidence based algorithm | Diagnosis | Treatment

Acute ankle injuries are among the most common injuries in emergency departments. However, a standardized examination and an evidence-based treatment are missing. Therefore, aim of this study was to systematically search the current literature, classify the evidence and develop an algorithm for diagnosis and treatment of acute ankle injuries. We systematically searched PubMed and the Cochrane Database for randomized controlled trials, meta-analysis, systematic reviews, or if applicable observational studies and classified them according to their level of evidence. According to the currently available literature, the following recommendations are given. The Ottawa Ankle/Foot Rule should be applied in order to rule out fractures, Physical examination is sufficient for diagnosing injuries to the lateral ligament complex. Classification into stable and unstable injuries is applicable and of clinical importance. The squeeze-, crossed leg- and external rotation test are indicative for injuries of the syndesmosis. Magnetic resonance imaging is recommended to verify such injuries. Stable ankle sprains have a good prognosis, while for unstable ankle sprains conservative treatment is at least as effective as operative treatment without carrying possible complications. Early functional treatment leads to the fastest recovery and the least rate of re-injury. Supervised rehabilitation reduces residual symptoms and re-injuries. Taken these recommendations into account, we here present an applicable and evidence-based step by step decision pathway for the diagnosis and treatment of acute ankle injuries, which can be implemented in any emergency department or doctor’s practice. It provides quality assurance for the patient and confidence for the attending physician.
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