Objective: The aim of this study was to assess the accuracy of ultrasonography in the diagnosis of chronic lateral ankle ligament injury.
Methods: A total of 120 ankles in 120 patients with a clinical suspicion of chronic ankle ligament injury were examined by ultrasonography by using a 5- to 17-MHz linear array transducer before surgery. The results of ultrasonography were compared with the operative findings.
Results: There were 18 sprains and 24 partial and 52 complete tears of the anterior talofibular ligament (ATFL); 26 sprains, 27 partial and 12 complete tears of the calcaneofibular ligament (CFL); and 1 complete tear of the posterior talofibular ligament (PTFL) at arthroscopy and operation. Compared with operative findings, the sensitivity, specificity and accuracy of ultrasonography were 98.9%, 96.2% and 84.2%, respectively, for injury of the ATFL and 93.8%, 90.9% and 83.3%, respectively, for injury of the CFL. The PTFL tear was identified by ultrasonography. The accuracy of identification between acute-on-chronic and subacute–chronic patients did not differ. The accuracies of diagnosing three grades of ATFL injuries were almost the same as those of diagnosing CFL injuries.
Conclusion: Ultrasonography provides useful information for the evaluation of patients presenting with chronic pain after ankle sprain.
Advances in knowledge: Intraoperative findings are the reference standard. We demonstrated that ultrasonography was highly sensitive and specific in detecting chronic lateral ligments injury of the ankle joint.