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Broken lateral malleolus



Can an x-ray show tendon/ligament damage with broken ankle?


Although tendons and ligaments are "soft tissues" which therefore are not directly imaged with X-rays, damage to ligaments, at least, can sometimes be inferred based on specific details of the X-ray depiction of a fracture (for example, which bone(s) is/are involved, the fracture pattern, the degree to which bones or fracture fragments may be displaced, etc.). The possible presence of tendon damage is less likely to be deduced from X-ray images.

Findings on physical examination are necessary to help determine whether tendon and/or ligament damage may be present, and to interpret not only X-ray findings, but also, findings from an MRI scan, if performed, which is the best means of directly visualizing such soft tissues as tendons and ligaments.

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Response by:

Brian L Bowyer, MD Brian L Bowyer, MD
Clinical Associate Professor
Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University