This study aimed to clarify the variability in the measurements of stress sonography of the ankle and determine the effects of examiner experience on the measurements.
Twenty examiners (10 experienced and 10 beginners) were included in the study. Each examiner performed stress ultrasonography on a patient with a chronic anterior talofibular ligament injury and a patient with an intact ligament using the reverse anterior drawer method. Changes in ligament length before versus after stress were determined. The same 20 examiners performed ultrasonography on two other patients with an injured or intact ATFL using the anterior drawer method. The length change values and variance were compared between the groups using t-tests and F-tests.
Using the reverse anterior drawer method, the change in the anterior talofibular ligament length was 3.3 mm (range, 2.2–4.8 mm) in the experienced group and 2.7 mm (0.0–4.1 mm) in the beginner group for the ligament injured patient. The length changes for the patient with intact anterior talofibular ligament were 0.5 mm (0.1–0.9 mm) and 0.4 mm (−0.1–1.5 mm) in the experienced and beginner groups, respectively. There were no significant intergroup differences in measurement amount (P = 0.37) or variance (P = 0.72). Similarly, using the anterior drawer method, no significant differences between the groups were found in measurement amount or variance.
The quantitative evaluation of stress sonography of the ankle was variable regardless of examiner experience or stress method, particularly in patients with an anterior talofibular ligament injury. The amount of variability appeared to be unacceptably large for clinical application. Our study results highlight the need for technical standardization.
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Published online: January 05, 2023
Accepted: December 9, 2022
Received in revised form: December 8, 2022
Received: July 27, 2022
Publication stageIn Press Corrected Proof
© 2023 Published by Elsevier B.V. on behalf of The Japanese Orthopaedic Association.