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Published Online:https://doi.org/10.3928/01477447-20140728-57

Abstract

Segmental tibial fractures usually follow a high-energy trauma and are often associated with many complications. The purpose of this report is to describe the authors’ results in the treatment of segmental tibial fractures with supercutaneous locking plates used as external fixators. Between January 2009 and March 2012, a total of 20 patients underwent external plating (supercutaneous plating) of the segmental tibial fractures using a less-invasive stabilization system locking plate (Synthes, Paoli, Pennsylvania). Six fractures were closed and 14 were open (6 grade IIIa, 2 grade IIIb, 4 grade II, and 2 grade I, according to the Gustilo classification). When imaging studies confirmed bone union, the plates and screws were removed in the outpatient clinic. Average time of follow-up was 23 months (range, 12–47 months). All fractures achieved union. Median time to union was 19 weeks (range, 12–40 weeks) for the proximal fractures and 22 weeks (range, 12–42 weeks) for the distal fractures. Functional results were excellent in 17 patients and good in 3. Delayed union of the fracture occurred in 2 patients. All patients’ radiographs showed normal alignment. No rotational deformities and leg shortening were seen. No incidences of deep infection or implant failures occurred. Minor screw tract infection occurred in 2 patients. A new 1-stage protocol using supercutaneous plating as a definitive fixator for segmental tibial fractures is less invasive, has a lower cost, and has a shorter hospitalization time. Surgeons can achieve good reduction, soft tissue reconstruction, stable fixation, and high union rates using supercutaneous plating. The current patients obtained excellent knee and ankle joint motion and good functional outcomes and had a comfortable clinical course.

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  • Received5/18/13 12:00 AM
  • Accepted1/30/14 12:00 AM
  • Published online7/28/14 12:00 AM
  • __article__history--ppub8/1/14 12:00 AM