Lisfranc Fracture Dislocation
Updated: Nov 16
34 M. Trauma due to falling off a roof. Diagnosis? • Xray of the Week
Figure 1. Trauma due to falling off a roof. Diagnosis?
Figure 2. Type B2 Lisfranc injury. (A) AP radiograph demonstrates the circled “fleck sign” or Lisfranc ligament avulsion fracture fragment. (B) Arrow demonstrates the increase in distance between the first and second metatarsals. The red lines show the misalignment or lateral displacement of the 2nd metatarsal bone over the second cuneiform bone and the preserved alignment of the first metatarsal with the first cuneiform bone. The first cuneiform bone is also fractured and there is lateral shift of the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th metatarsals. (C) Lateral radiograph demonstrates dorsal sub dislocation of the metatarsal base (red circle).
A Lisfranc Fracture is a relatively rare injury, with an incidence of 1 per 55,000 persons per year and 0.2% of all diagnosed fractures. More commonly seen in male patients during the third decade of life, it is a fracture/dislocation of the tarsometatarsal (TMT) joint between the first, second, and third metatarsal bones, which articulate with three cuneiform bones [1,2]. The trapezoidal shape between these bones, the transverse arch, provides stability. Injury can encompass minor ligamentous lesions and fracture dislocations with more severe trauma, as in this case . Other risk factors include patients with diabetes or chronic neuropathy and repetitive wear and tear . A shallow second TMT joint also contributes to increased risk of injury. Fracture often occurs due to intense medial or lateral forces acting as the foot is plantar flexed, such as in a motor vehicle collision or while playing sports . With over 20% of Lisfranc fractures missed upon presentation, it is important to diagnose these injuries promptly, as delayed diagnosis may lead to chronic foot deformity, midfoot arthritis, pain, chronic instability, and disability [1,2].
History and Physical Exam:
Severe injuries present with difficulty bearing weight, pain, swelling, and an obvious deformity . However, some patients may only present with pain and no obvious deformity . Patients commonly hear or feel a midfoot pop when acutely injuring the Lisfranc joint. Symptoms may also include plantar ecchymosis, neuropathy, and decrease of sensation and two-point discrimination over the medial terminal branch of the deep peroneal nerve. There may also be abnormal increased distance between the first and second toes .
Imaging and Case Analysis:
Radiographic images demonstrate misalignment of the medial side of the second metatarsal with the medial side of the middle cuneiform bone, as seen in this case. (Fig.1B) . An increased distance between the first and second metatarsals can be seen. (Fig.1B) . It may demonstrate a more pronounced cavus midfoot, findings highly suggestive of a Lisfranc fracture . A distance of greater than 2 mm between the first cuneiform bone and second metatarsal is also suggestive of a Lisfranc injury . A bone fragment is often observed between the first and second metatarsals, indicating an avulsion of the Lisfranc ligament or “fleck sign” as demonstrated here (Fig.1A) . The lateral side of the first metatarsal base and the lateral side of the medial cuneiform may also be visualized and misaligned due to injury .
Figure 3. Hardcastle & Myerson Classification system for Lisfranc Injury. [2, 4]
The Hardcastle & Myerson Classification system categorizes injuries as type A when all the metatarsals are displaced laterally with total incongruity, with M1-M5 dislocated in the same direction . In a type B injury, one or more metatarsals are displaced without total incongruity. The M1 joint will be medially dislocated, or any of the M2-M4 joints will be laterally dislocated . A type C injury has a divergent pattern or a complete dislocation of M1 and all metatarsals . Myerson further subdivided type B and type C injuries into a modified classification system. For B1 injuries, there is a first metatarsal medial dislocation . For B2 injuries, there is a lateral dislocation of M2-M5. Type C1 demonstrates a divergent pattern in some of the tarsometatarsal joints, and type C2 includes all the tarsometatarsal joints . This case demonstrates severe trauma, and although there is preserved alignment of the first metatarsal with the first cuneiform bone, the first cuneiform bone itself is fractured. There is also a lateral shift or displacement of the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th metatarsals (Fig. 1A). Using this description and the flowchart (Fig. 4), this patient has a type B2 Lisfranc injury.
Figure 4. Flow chart of Hardcastle & Myerson Classification system for Lisfranc Injury. [2, 4]
One should also evaluate the oblique view to check the medial side of the fourth metatarsal base lining up with the medial side of the cuboid bone . The lateral view is useful to check for plantar misalignment and the dorsal cortex of the first metatarsal lining up with the medial side of the cuneiform bone . In this case the lateral view shows a dorsal sub dislocation of the metatarsal base (Fig. 1C). A CT scan will better assist with diagnosis and help with planning if surgery is necessary . It is useful when measuring M2-C1 distance and comparing the sides of the foot . However, some argue it has limited benefit for subtle injuries as radiographs are 82% sensitive and 90% specific . Magnetic resonance imaging will help to evaluate ligamentous involvement and provides a 94% predictive value for diagnosing Lisfranc injury .
Non-surgical treatment can only be considered for stable, non-displaced injuries. Those patients will be treated with immobilization for six weeks and subsequent gradual return to physical activity . For patients with displaced (rupture or detachment of Lisfranc ligament) or unstable while weight-bearing Lisfranc injuries, surgery is required . Although the Hardcastle and Myerson is the most commonly used classification system for Lisfranc injuries, it does not fully determine the treatment plan . Standard treatment is open reduction and internal fixation, with non-weight-bearing for six to eight weeks for most types of Lisfranc injuries, commonly type B [2,9]. However, a primary partial arthrodesis may also be considered as it has shown optimal results for purely ligamentous Lisfranc injuries, patients with delayed presentation or chronic deformity, or patients with complete Lisfranc fracture dislocations such as those with type A or C2 Lisfranc injuries [2,4,8,10]. A combination of both procedures can be considered for a complex Lisfranc injury, such as in this case. There is conflicting evidence on which surgical procedure is more effective as both have similar pain intensity scores. However, primary arthrodesis has lower complication rates .
Buchanan BK, Donnally III CJ. Lisfranc Dislocation. In: StatPearls. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; August 29, 2022. PMID: 28846306. Bookshelf ID: NBK448147. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28846306/.
Moracia-Ochagavía I, Rodríguez-Merchán EC. Lisfranc fracture-dislocations: current management. EFORT Open Rev. 2019;4(7):430-444. Published 2019 Jul 2. DOI: 10.1302/2058-5241.4.180076.
Shazadeh Safavi P, Weiss W, Panchbhavi V. Gravity Stress Radiograph Revealing Instability at the First Metatarso-Cuneiform Joint in Lisfranc Injury. Cureus. 2017;9(2):e1015. Published 2017 Feb 7. DOI: 10.7759/cureus.1015.
Albert S, Bliss J, Nithyananth M. Lisfranc fracture dislocation: A Review. Journal of Foot and Ankle Surgery (Asia Pacific). 2022;10(1):234-241. doi:10.5005/jp-journals-10040-1236.
Kennelly H, Klaassen K, Heitman D, Youngberg R, Platt SR. Utility of weight-bearing radiographs compared to computed tomography scan for the diagnosis of subtle Lisfranc injuries in the emergency setting. Emerg Med Australas. 2019;31(5):741-744. DOI: 10.1111/1742-6723.13237.
Falcon S, McCormack T, Mackay M, et al. Retrospective chart review: Weightbearing CT scans and the measurement of the Lisfranc ligamentous complex. Foot Ankle Surg. 2023;29(1):39-43. DOI: 10.1016/j.fas.2022.08.011.
Chen C, Jiang J, Wang C, Zou J, Shi Z, Yang Y. Is the diagnostic validity of conventional radiography for Lisfranc injury acceptable?. J Foot Ankle Res. 2023;16(1):9. Published 2023 Mar 1. DOI: 10.1186/s13047-023-00608-0.
Padki A, Cheok GJ, Mehta KV. Outcomes of surgical fixation of Lisfranc injuries: A 2-Year review. Journal of Foot and Ankle Surgery (Asia Pacific). 2022;9(S1). doi: 10.5005/jp-journals-10040-1192.
Mascio A, Greco T, Maccauro G, Perisano C. Lisfranc complex injuries management and treatment: current knowledge. Int J Physiol Pathophysiol Pharmacol. 2022;14(3):161-170. Published 2022 Jun 15. PMCID: PMC9301181. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35891929/.
Levy CJ, Yatsonsky D 2nd, Moral MZ, Liu J, Ebraheim NA. Arthrodesis or Open Reduction Internal Fixation for Lisfranc Injuries: A Meta-analysis. Foot Ankle Spec. 2022;15(2):179-184. DOI: 10.1177/1938640020971419.
Rebeca Santos is a Class of 2025 medical student at Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis, IN. She graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in Finance and International Business with honors college completion and an international bank management certificate in 2014. During medical school, she volunteered at the IU student outreach clinic and participated in Kids in Nutrition, teaching healthy habits, and providing nutritional education to elementary students. She also conducted laboratory research on the FOXP3 isoform to establish its role in autoimmunity and presented the poster at the Harvard 2022 New England Science Symposium. She is now pursuing a career in Diagnostic Radiology with interests in Breast imaging. She strives to achieve innovation in the field of radiology, utilizing breakthrough detection methods to make an impact in women’s health.
Kevin M. Rice, MD is the president of Global Radiology CME
Dr. Rice is a radiologist with Renaissance Imaging Medical Associates and is currently the Vice Chief of Staff at Valley Presbyterian Hospital in Los Angeles, California. Dr. Rice has made several media appearances as part of his ongoing commitment to public education. Dr. Rice's passion for state of the art radiology and teaching includes acting as a guest lecturer at UCLA. In 2015, Dr. Rice and Natalie Rice founded Global Radiology CME to provide innovative radiology education at exciting international destinations, with the world's foremost authorities in their field. In both 2016 and 2021, Dr. Rice was nominated and became a semifinalist for a "Minnie" Award for the Most Effective Radiology Educator.
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