Introduction: Previous studies on ankle arthroscopy have reported the results of treatment in adult patients. To our knowledge there are no studies reporting the out-come in children.
Aim: To analyse retrospectively the outcome of ankle arthroscopy in children.
Method: Between March 2005 and September 2007, twenty-two children (14 boys and 8 girls) underwent ankle arthroscopy for post-traumatic pathology. Their average age was 13.5 years (range 8.6 to 18). The symptoms were ankle pain (21 out of 22), instability (7) or clicking (6). Indications for arthroscopy were no response to conservative treatment, including physiotherapy, for at least 12 weeks or a grade 3 or 4 osteochondral defect (OCD) on imaging.
In five patients radiographs revealed an OCD. MR scans were obtained in eleven patients, which revealed OCDs in five, evidence of tarsal coalition in two, features suggesting posterior ankle impingement in 1 and normal scans in the remaining three.
At arthroscopy OCDs were visualised in nine cases, two of which were grade 4, four were grade 3 and three were grade 2. The grade 4 lesions were debrided and drilled, the grade 3 lesions had their edges debrided and the rest were stable. There were 3 false positive MRI scans where an OCD was reported but not seen on arthroscopy.
Impingement lesions were seen in twelve ankles (8 antero-lateral, 2 syndesmotic, 1 medial and 1 posterior), which were debrided. MRI scans had been performed in eight of these twelve cases but only one suggested an impingement lesion.
Results: Seventeen of our twenty- two patients had complete relief of symptoms at 3 months. They were back to their normal activity including sports. Three patients had persistent pain at 3 months. Two of these showed features of instability, one of which went on to have a Brostrom repair; the second had a repeat arthroscopy and debridement while the third improved with restricted activity. The average AOFAS score improved from 52 pre-operatively to 79 at 3 months following surgery.
Conclusions: Ankle arthroscopy has a successful outcome in paediatric patients with a painful ankle where conservative treatment has failed. MR imaging lacked sensitivity for diagnosing soft tissue impingement of the ankle.
Correspondence should be addressed to BSCOS c/o BOA, at the Royal College of Surgeons, 35–43 Lincoln’s Inn Fields, London, WC2A 3PE, England.