Patients frequently present to the emergency department after ankle injuries, and the anterior talofibular ligament (ATFL) is commonly damaged. Musculoskeletal ultrasound (US) can help to make a rapid diagnosis. There is a paucity of literature describing techniques to image the ATFL with US, and the complex ankle anatomy and potential pitfalls make imaging challenging.
Our aim was to estimate prevalence of perforating branches (PBs) of the peroneal vessels and determine their most frequent position relative to the ATFL. If these vessels are located in a predictable position at the level of the ATFL, they may serve as a sonographic landmark for the correct imaging plane.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans of 105 ankles were reviewed to determine the PB prevalence and location at the ATFL. Inter-observer agreement was determined. Additionally, 16 ankles from 8 asymptomatic subjects were scanned using a high-frequency linear transducer and PB prevalence and location were noted.
By MRI, PBs were detected in 85% of the ankles and 93% of ankles after consensus. In 73% of cases with agreed PB visualization, vessels assumed a medial position with respect to the ATFL. By US, PBs could be seen in 100% of cases, with the arterial PB seen in 81% of cases and assuming a medial position in 88%.
PBs are often present, have a predictable course, and may be useful to help optimize US probe positioning when assessing the ATFL.
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Published online: January 25, 2017
Accepted: December 19, 2016
Received in revised form: December 5, 2016
Received: July 21, 2016
Approved by the Institutional Review Board with waiver of informed consent.
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