Revisiting Tension Band Fixation for Difficult Patellar Fractures

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Patella fractures with comminution, osteoporotic bone, and/or previously failed fixation are exceedingly difficult to reduce and fix. Moreover, the risk of symptomatic constructs and patients who are poorly compliant with postoperative activity restrictions can make these complex fracture patterns an even more challenging scenario. Although there is an array of techniques described for comminuted patella fractures, there lacks an accepted surgical technique for these difficult cases. In this clinical series, we describe an enhancement to the traditional tension band construct that uses additional wires and multiple tension bands to gather and fix comminuted fracture patterns in nontransverse planes, bolster osteoporotic bone, and secure fractures in patients undergoing a revision and/or have potential to be poorly compliant with postoperative activity restrictions. The clinical outcomes of 27 patients demonstrate high rates of bony union, functional range of motion, and low rates of both infection and failure. In conclusion, using the basic principles of tension band wiring remains highly versatile, useful, and economical in approaching difficult patella fractures.

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