MRI signal intensity ratio reflects the quality of the anterior talofibular and calcaneofibular ligaments in patients with chronic lateral ankle instability

Published:November 03, 2022DOI:



      Ligament quality can affect clinical outcomes of ligament repair in chronic lateral ankle instability (CLAI). Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is used to assess the morphological changes of ligaments, but the measurement of signal intensity enables quantitative evaluation, which can evaluate the degree of the ligament quality. This study aimed to evaluate the qualitative diagnostic capacity for anterior talofibular ligament (ATFL) and calcaneofibular ligament (CFL) injuries of the signal intensity on MRI.


      Thirty-eight and 20 ankles with and without CLAI, respectively, were included. The regions of interest (ROIs) were set in the ATFL, CFL, and tibialis anterior tendon (TAT) on MRI, and the signal intensities were measured. The signal intensities of the ATFL and CFL were corrected using TAT as the signal intensity ratio (SIR). The SIRs of the ATFL and CFL in the control and CLAI groups were compared. The relationship between the SIR of the ATFL and the arthroscopic findings was analyzed. Finally, the SIRs of the CFL in CLAI with and without CFL repair were compared.


      The mean SIR of the ATFL in the CLAI group (6.1 ± 2.4) was significantly higher than that in the control (2.1 ± 0.4) (P < 0.01). The SIR of the ATFL was associated with the arthroscopic grading. The mean SIR of the CFL in the CLAI groups (4.1 ± 2.5) was significantly higher than that in the control (1.7 ± 0.4) (P < 0.01). The SIR of the CFL in patients with the requirement of the CFL repair (6.2 ± 1.9) was significantly higher than that without the CFL repair (2.1 ± 0.5) (P < 0.05).


      The SIR is useful for evaluating the quality of the ATFL and CFL, which enables the decision of the treatment strategy of the CLAI.


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