Fibular Fixation in Distal Tibia Fractures: Reduction Aid or Nonunion Generator?

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The role of fibular fixation in patients with distal tibia fractures is controversial. Although the stability of the fibula is critical in patients with syndesmotic instability or highly comminuted pilon fractures, fibular fixation in extraarticular distal tibia fractures or elementary intraarticular distal tibia fractures is more controversial. Biomechanical studies, as performed in sawbones or cadaveric models, denote advantages to fibular fixation with respect to specific uniplanar motion. However, the increased stability is susceptible to the fracture pattern of the tibia, fixation strategy for the tibia, fixation strategy for the fibula, and loading pattern of the entire construct. Clinical studies examining fibular fixation in patients with concomitant distal third tibia fractures have also not been definitive in their conclusions. Fibular fixation may improve the ability to obtain and maintain reduction in complex fractures of the distal tibia, but as a result of the increased stability of the construct, may also increase rates of nonunion in this challenging patient population.

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