Three-Dimensional Computed Tomographic Characterization of Normal Anatomic Morphology and Variations of the Distal Tibiofibular Syndesmosis

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19 Scopus citations


Malreduction of distal tibiofibular syndesmosis (DTFS) leads to poor functional outcomes after ankle fracture surgery. Difficulty achieving anatomic alignment of the syndesmosis is due to variable morphology of the fibular incisura of the tibia and a paucity of literature regarding its morphologic characteristics. We surveyed 775 consecutive ankle computed tomography (CT) scans performed from June 2008 to December 2011, and 203 (26.2%) were included for evaluation. Two observers performed quantitative measurements and qualitative evaluated fibular incisura morphology. Tang ratios for fibular rotation, anterior and posterior tibiofibular distances, fibular incisura depth, and subjective morphologies on CT were assessed using conventional multiplanar reconstruction (MPR) and maximum intensity projections (MIPs). On conventional CT, the mean Tang ratio was 0.97 ± 0.06; the mean anterior tibiofibular distance was 2.17 ± 0.87 mm; the mean posterior tibiofibular distance was 3.52 ± 0.94 mm; and the mean depth of fibular incisura was 3.29 ± 1.19 mm. Five morphologic variations of the fibular incisura were identified: crescentic, trapezoid, flat, chevron, and widow's peak. The most common fibular incisura morphology was crescentic (61.3%), followed by trapezoid shape (25.1%); the least common morphology was flat (3.1%). Interobserver variability with intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC) was slightly higher for all quantitative measures on MPR (ICC = 0.72 to.81) versus MIP (ICC = 0.64 to 0.75). ICC for incisura shape and depth assessments was poor on both modalities (0.13 to 0.38). This comprehensive CT study reports on quantitative and qualitative descriptive measures to evaluate fibular incisura morphologies and fibular orientation. It also defines the frequency of DTFS measures and the interobserver performance on 2 CT evaluation methods.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Foot and Ankle Surgery
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2018


  • 5
  • anatomy
  • ankle
  • computed tomography
  • malreduction
  • morphology
  • tibiofibular syndesmosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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