The Brostrom procedure is a surgical operation done on a patient to repair ligaments torn during an ankle sprain injury. Most ankle sprain injuries are mild and may respond to conservative treatment. If these injuries happen frequently, the patient may need to undergo the Brostrom procedure to stabilize the ankle.
A sprained ankle occurs when there is an outward rolling of the ankle while the sole of the foot turns inward. These injuries may occur in athletes who participate in sports such as basketball, football, or soccer. Dancers may also be prone to sprained ankle injuries but any active adult or child can also suffer from this type of injury.
There are four ligaments that provide support to the bones of the ankle. Two of these ligaments, the anterior talofibular (ATFL) and the calcaneofibular (CFL), are more likely to be injured during an ankle sprain. Ankle sprain injuries are classified as mild, moderate, or severe, based on whether the ligaments are stretched or torn.
When a severe sprain has occurred, both the ATFL and CFL ligaments have been torn. The patient may experience pain, swelling, and be unable to put weight on the ankle. Early treatment for these severe sprains is usually rest, ice, compression, and elevation. Once the swelling has subsided, the patient may need to brace or support the ankle to allow healing to begin.
Over time, if a patient suffers several severe sprains, the ankle may become unstable. The patient feels that the ankle could give out at any time. This is referred to as chronic lateral ankle instability and patients with this condition may qualify for the Brostrom procedure.
The Brostrom procedure is performed while the patient is under general anesthesia. An incision is made on the outside of the ankle. The surgeon cuts and shortens both the ATFL and the CFL ligaments and sutures the ends of the ligaments back together. This tightens the ligaments and provides more support for the ankle. Patients should experience fewer ankle sprain injuries following the Brostrom procedure.
Patients who have undergone this surgery must initially wear a splint to keep the ankle immobilized. The patient may be instructed not to put any weight on the ankle for a period of two weeks. After two weeks, the patient may be able to wear a walking cast. Return to activity is then done gradually and may include mild stretching exercises. Full recovery could take from three to six months.