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What is a Brostrom Procedure?

By Carol Kindle
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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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.

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Discussion Comments

By anon353667 — On Nov 01, 2013

I just had the procedure done a week ago. I was put under for the operation. I had a cast from my knee to my toes for 10 days. They then removed this and changed the dressing, which healed very well. Very little scar tissue on the outside. They then put me in another toe to knee cast that will stay on for another month. This is a non weight bearing cast and crutches are necessary.

Once one masters these the only issue is not putting any weight on it for so long one almost gets cabin fever.

The pain was minimal. I am hoping to have full recovery in three to six months and I hope to go back to playing hockey. I was told by the doctor that if I was playing before the operation that I would be a lot more stable after. I hope all goes well. If you are considering this don't wait until you really tear something or hurt yourself falling down again.

By BoniJ — On Jul 23, 2011

A recent article I read talked about a modified version of the Brostrom surgery which has been quite successful for ice skaters, gymnasts, and dancers. It's an easier surgery than the regular Bronstrom procedure and patients heal faster.

In a study, 28 athletes, dancers and non-athletes were given the Brostrom-Gould procedure. Of the 28 surgeries, 26 had excellent results, one good, and one fair.

In a follow-up 3 to 11 years after surgery, all had good stable ankles.

By Bertie68 — On Jul 22, 2011

Anyone who sprains their ankle or tears one or more of the ligaments that support the ankle has my sympathy. Treatment with rest, ice, compression and elevating the ankle is the first step in treating a sprained ankle. Support, like using a brace, may be needed.

If the ankle doesn't get better or if you keep twisting and spraining it, your doctor will probably consider doing a surgery called the Brostrom procedure. The surgeon makes the ligaments shorter and sews them back to give more support. It does take a long while to heal completely. Anyone know the success of this surgery? Can you go back to playing your favorite sport?

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