Reconstruction of large diaphyseal defects, without free fibular transfer, in Grade-IIIB tibial fractures.

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Eight Grade-IIIB tibial fractures that were associated with large soft-tissue and segmental diaphyseal defects, averaging ten centimeters in length, were successfully reconstructed without the use of a free fibular transfer. A free tissue flap was the preferred form of soft-tissue coverage. The osseous reconstruction was accomplished by using a massive amount of autogenous cancellous bone graft. Beads that were made from polymethylmethacrylate and impregnated with two antibiotics at the time of operation were used as soft-tissue spacers to preserve the volume of the diaphyseal defect for later receipt of the cancellous bone graft. The beads prevented the soft-tissue flap from collapsing into and adhering to the site of the tibial defect. The beads also served as vehicles for local delivery of the antibiotics that they contained. When the soft-tissue flap had healed, the beads were replaced with cancellous graft. All of the tibiae healed. The time to healing averaged nine months. The average duration of external fixation was 5.5 months. One deep infection developed, but resolved after debridement and antibiotic therapy. This conservative technique is safe and reliable for patients who have sustained a high-energy tibial fracture and a large segmental diaphyseal defect.

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