Background: The mechanical importance of the interosseous tibiofibular ligament of the ankle is unclear. The purpose of the current study was to compare the stiffness and strength of the interosseous tibiofibular ligament to that of the anterior tibiofibular ligament.
Methods: Twelve pairs of ankles were obtained from the Maryland State Anatomy Board. All soft tissue was removed except for the interosseous tibiofibular ligament in one ankle of each pair and the anterior tibiofibular ligament in the contralateral ankle. The assignment of which ligament would be excised in the right or left ankle of each pair was random. The specimens were potted as bone-ligament-bone preparations and mounted in a servohydraulic testing machine so that the ligament's long axis was coincident with the actuator. Specimens were elongated at 0.5 mm/s until rupture. Failure load and failure site were recorded, and stiffness was calculated. Stiffness and failure loads were compared with a paired t-test. Significance was set at p < 0.05.
Results: The interosseous ligament was significantly stiffer (234 +/- 122 N/mm) than the anterior tibiofibular ligament (162 +/- 64 N/mm). The mean failure load of the interosseous tibiofibular ligament (822 +/- 298 N) was significantly greater than that of the anterior tibiofibular ligament (625 +/- 255 N).
Conclusions: The interosseous tibiofibular ligament is stiffer and stronger than the anterior tibiofibular ligament.
Clinical Relevance: The current study suggests that the interosseous ligament plays an important role in the stability of the ankle, and its status should be part of the diagnostic evaluation in syndesmotic instability.
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