Six cadaveric ankles were dissected, preserving medial and lateral ligaments; an axial load of 455N was applied to the tibia supported by the foot and ankle. The unconstrained tibia was moved through 20 degrees of flexion and extension to simulate walking. The tibiotalar contact area was defined using carbon black suspension, recorded photographically, and measured using computerized area analysis. Osteotomy of the distal fibula was performed and fixed with a specially modified plate; a selection of plates provided fixation with 0 degrees or 30 degrees of external rotation in combination with 0 or 2 mm of shortening. The contact area was measured for each of the plates and after division of the deltoid ligament. There were greater than 30 percent decreases in tibiotalar contact with both fibular shortening and external rotation, doubled with a divided deltoid ligament. Anatomic restoration of both fibular length and rotation is essential for normal ankle mechanics. The deltoid ligament has crucial effects on the stability of the ankle mortise.
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