Long-term follow-up of fibular graft for the reconstruction of bone defects

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Abstract

The use of fibular graft for the reconstruction of bone defects has been demonstrated to be a reliable method. The aim of this study was to assess the clinical outcome of graft union, functional outcome (hypertrophy of the graft bones) and complications of both non-vascularized and vascularized grafts.

From 1981 to 2015, 10 patients were treated using non-vascularized fibular graft or free vascularized fibular graft. The outcomes were bony union time, graft hypertrophy and complications based on radiograph and functional outcomes according to the Musculoskeletal Tumor Society (MSTS) score. Mobility of the ankle at the donor site was evaluated using the Kofoed ankle score system.

This study included 10 patients with an average follow-up of 6.8 years. The union rate for all patients was 100%. The mean union time was 21.3 weeks for vascularized fibular grafts and 30.5 weeks for non-vascularized fibular grafts (P = .310). There was a significant difference between the upper limbs and the lower limbs regarding hypertrophy of the grafts in 5 patients (P = .003). The mean MSTS score in 10 patients was 84% (range 53%–97%). Stress fracture of the graft occurred in 1 patient. Donor site complications, including valgus deformity and length discrepancy, between 2 legs occurred in 2 patients who were under 18 years of age at the time of operation (P = .114). The mean Kofoed score was 96.8 (range 88–100).

A greater increase in hypertrophy of grafts was observed with reconstruction in the lower limbs. There was no difference in MSTS score between these 2 types of grafts. Children were more likely to experience the valgus deformity at the donor site after harvesting the fibula. Keeping at least the distal 1/4 of the fibula intact during the surgery is a valid means of ensuring ankle stability at the donor site, and children should be considered for prophylactic distal tibiofibular synostosis creation to prevent the valgus deformity of the ankle at the donor site.

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