Ankle fracture spur sign is pathognomonic for a variant ankle fracture

Richard M. Hinds, Matthew R. Garner, Lionel E. Lazaro, Stephen J. Warner, Michael L. Loftus, Jacqueline F. Birnbaum, Jayme C. Burket, Dean G. Lorich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Background: The hyperplantarflexion variant ankle fracture is composed of a posterior tibial lip fracture with posterolateral and posteromedial fracture fragments separated by a vertical fracture line. This infrequently reported injury pattern often includes an associated "spur sign" or double cortical density at the inferomedial tibial metaphysis. The objective of this study was to quantitatively establish the association of the ankle fracture spur sign with the hyperplantarflexion variant ankle fracture. Methods: Our clinical database of operative ankle fractures was retrospectively reviewed for the incidence of hyperplantarflexion variant and nonvariant ankle fractures as determined by assessment of injury radiographs, preoperative advanced imaging, and intraoperative observation. Injury radiographs were then evaluated for the presence of the spur sign, and association between the spur sign and variant fractures was analyzed. Results: The incidence of the hyperplantarflexion variant fracture among all ankle fractures was 6.7% (43/640). The spur sign was present in 79% (34/43) of variant fractures and absent in all nonvariant fractures, conferring a specificity of 100% in identifying variant fractures. Positive predictive value and negative predictive value were 100% and 99%, respectively. Conclusion: The ankle fracture spur sign was pathognomonic for the hyperplantarflexion variant ankle fracture. It is important to identify variant fractures preoperatively as patient positioning, operative approach, and fixation construct of variant fractures often differ from those employed for osteosynthesis of nonvariant fractures. Identification of the spur sign should prompt acquisition of advanced imaging to formulate an appropriate operative plan to address the variant fracture pattern. Level of Evidence: Level III, retrospective comparative study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)159-164
Number of pages6
JournalFoot and Ankle International
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 6 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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