Time-to-Surgery and Short-Term Outcomes of Trimalleolar Ankle Fracture During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title



Introduction During the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, a rapid and significant transformation in patient management occurred across the healthcare system in order to mitigate the spread of the disease and address resource constraints. Numerous surgical cases were either postponed or canceled, permitting only the most critical and emergent cases to proceed. The impact of these modifications on patient outcomes remains uncertain. The purpose of this study was to compare time-to-surgery and outcomes of open reduction and internal fixation for trimalleolar ankle fractures during the pandemic to a pre-pandemic group. We hypothesized that the pandemic group would have a prolonged time-to-surgery and worse outcomes compared to the pre-pandemic cohort. Materials and methods This retrospective cohort study was conducted within a single healthcare system, examining the treatment of trimalleolar ankle fractures during two distinct periods: April to July 2020 (COVID-19 group) and January to December 2018 (2018 group). Cases were identified using Current Procedural Terminology code 27822. Information on demographics, fracture characteristics, and outcomes was obtained through chart review. Outcomes analyzed included time-to-surgery, mean visual analog scale scores, ankle strength and range of motion, and complications.

Results COVID-19 and 2018 groups consisted of 32 and 100 patients, respectively. No significant difference was observed in group demographics and comorbidities (p > 0.05). Fracture characteristics were similar between groups apart from tibiofibular syndesmosis injury, 62.5% (20/32) in COVID-19 vs 42.0% (42/100) in 2018 (p = 0.03). Time-to-surgery was not significantly different between the two groups (8.84 ± 6.78 days in COVID-19 vs 8.61 ± 6.02 days in 2018, p = 0.85). Mean visual analog scale scores, ankle strength, and ankle range of motion in plantarflexion were not significantly different between the two groups at three and six months postoperatively (p > 0.05). Dorsiflexion was significantly higher in the COVID-19 group at three months (p = 0.03), but not six months (p = 0.94) postoperatively. No significant difference in postoperative complication was seen between groups, 25.0% (8/32) COVID-19 group compared to 15.0% (15/100) 2018 group (p = 0.11).

Conclusions Patients who underwent surgery during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic did not experience prolonged time-to-surgery and had similar outcomes compared to patients treated prior to the pandemic.

PubMed ID






First Page


Last Page