Bicondylar Tibial Plateau Fractures Treated with a Hybrid Ring External Fixator: A Preliminary Study

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Abstract

Summary:

Twenty-three knees in 22 patients with Schatzker type VI tibial plateau fractures were treated with a hybrid ring external fixator using tensioned wires proximally and half-pins distally. All but two injuries were secondary to high-energy trauma. Six were open injuries, and eight patients had other major musculoskeletal trauma. Eight patients were treated with limited open reduction and internal fixation before application of the frame. The remainder received percutaneous cannulated screw fixation to stabilize the articular surface without opening the fracture site. Twenty-three fractures were followed to complete healing. Average time to healing was 4.4 months. Arc of motion averaged 107°, and there were four flexion contractures of 5–15°. Complications consisted of three deep wound infections, one deep venous thrombosis (DVT), one malunion, and one pin tract infection. The average knee score and patient function score were 84.7 and 80.5, respectively (Knee Society Clinical Rating System). There were 13 excellent, three good, one fair, and six poor results. The poor results were in patients who either developed deep wound infections or in those who sustained multiple musculoskeletal trauma compromising the patients' function score and ultimately the average score. This method provides good stabilization and allows early range of motion for complex tibial plateau fractures where extensive dissection and internal fixation are contraindicated due to traumatized soft tissue, osteopenia, and fracture comminution.

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