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Diagnosis and treatment of anterior ankle impingement: state of the art


The aim of this paper is to discuss anterior ankle impingement (AAI) regarding diagnosis, interventions, techniques and future perspectives. AAI is a pain syndrome due to soft tissue or bony impingement. Impingement caused by soft tissues is frequently found in the anterolateral compartment of the ankle, whereas impingement caused by bony spurs is generally located in the anteromedial compartment. Typical complaints are chronic ankle pain, limited dorsiflexion and swelling. The most important feature is recognisable tenderness on palpation, which helps distinguish this condition from an osteochondral lesion, which is characterised with deep ankle pain. Although the diagnosis is mainly based on clinical assessment, imaging is helpful for differential diagnosis and preoperative planning. Standard X-rays, using anteroposterior, lateral and an anteromedial oblique view for detecting bony spurs, are sufficient to make the diagnosis. CT can be used to accurately assess the extent and size of a bony spur. MRI is useful to evaluate soft tissue lesions and exclude concomitant pathology, like osteochondral lesions or stress fractures. Conservative treatment is the first-line treatment. In cases where conservative treatment has been unsuccessful, surgery may be indicated. Arthroscopic debridement is considered the gold standard to treat AAI. Rehabilitation protocol includes full weight-bearing and exercises to stimulate active dorsiflexion-plantar flexion and avoid stiffness.

  • ankle
  • impingement
  • arthroscopy
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