Pseudo-aneurysm of the anterior tibial artery, a rare cause of ankle swelling following a sports injuryReport as inadecuate

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BMC Emergency Medicine

, 5:9

First Online: 14 October 2005Received: 01 July 2005Accepted: 14 October 2005DOI: 10.1186-1471-227X-5-9

Cite this article as: Marron, C.D., McKay, D., Johnston, R. et al. BMC Emerg Med 2005 5: 9. doi:10.1186-1471-227X-5-9


BackgroundAnkle pain and swelling following sports injuries are common presenting complaints to the accident and emergency department. Frequently these are diagnosed as musculoskeletal injuries, even when no definitive cause is found. Vascular injuries following trauma are uncommon and are an extremely rare cause of ankle swelling and pain. These injuries may however be limb threatening and are important to diagnose early, in order that appropriate treatment can be delivered. We highlight the steps to diagnosis of these injuries, and methods of managing these injuries. It is important for clinicians to be aware of the potential for this injury in patients with seemingly innocuous trauma from sports injuries, who have significant ankle pain and swelling.

Case presentationA young, professional sportsman presented with a swollen, painful ankle after an innocuous hyper-plantar flexion injury whilst playing football, which was initially diagnosed as a ligamentous injury after no bony injury was revealed on X-Ray. He returned 2 days later with a large ulcer at the lateral malleolus and further investigation by duplex ultrasound and transfemoral arteriogram revealed a Pseudo-Aneurysm of the Anterior Tibial Artery. This was initially managed with percutaneous injection of thrombin, and later open surgery to ligate the feeding vessel. The patient recovered fully and was able to return to recreational sport.

ConclusionVascular injuries remain a rare cause of ankle pain and swelling following sports injuries, however it is important to consider these injuries when no definite musculo-skeletal cause is found. Ultrasound duplex and Transfemoral arteriogram are appropriate, sensitive modalities for investigation, and may allow novel treatment to be directed percutaneously. Early diagnosis and intervention are essential for the successful outcome in these patients.

Electronic supplementary materialThe online version of this article doi:10.1186-1471-227X-5-9 contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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Author: Conor D Marron - Damian McKay - Ruth Johnston - Eamon McAteer - WJ Ivan Stirling


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