Talar fractures and dislocations: A radiologist’s guide to timely diagnosis and classification

Yulia Melenevsky, Robert A. Mackey, R. Brad Abrahams, Norman B. Thomson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


The talus, the second largest tarsal bone, has distinctive imaging characteristics and injury patterns. The predominantly extraosseous vascular supply of the talus predisposes it to significant injury in the setting of trauma. In addition, the lack of muscular attachments and absence of a secondary blood supply can lead to subsequent osteonecrosis. Although talar fractures account for less than 1% of all fractures, they commonly result from high-energy trauma and may lead to complications and long-term morbidity if not recognized and managed appropriately. While initial evaluation is with foot and ankle radiographs, computed tomography (CT) is often performed to evaluate the extent of the fracture, displacement, comminution, intra-articular extension, and associated injuries. Talar fractures are divided by anatomic region: head, neck, and body. Talar head fractures can be treated conservatively if nondisplaced, warranting careful radiographic and CT evaluation to assess rotation, displacement, and extension into the neck. The modifed Hawkins-Canale classification of talar neck fractures is most commonly used due to its simplicity, usefulness in guiding treatment, and prognostic value, as it correlates associated malalignment with risk of subsequent osteonecrosis. Isolated talar body fractures may be more common than previously thought. The Sneppen classification further divides talar body fractures into osteochondral talar dome, lateral and posterior process, and shear and crush comminuted central body fractures. Crush comminuted central body fractures carry a poor prognosis due to nonanatomic reduction, bone loss, and subsequent osteonecrosis. Lateral process fractures can be radiographically occult and require a higher index of suspicion for successful diagnosis. Subtalar dislocations are often accompanied by fractures, necessitating postreduction CT. Familiarity with the unique talar anatomy and injury patterns is essential for radiologists to facilitate appropriate and timely management.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)765-779
Number of pages15
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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