Drs Krupp, Malkani, Roberts, Seligson, and Crawford and Mr Smith are from the University of Louisville, Kentucky.Drs Krupp, Malkani, Roberts, Seligson, and Crawford and Mr Smith have no relevant financial relationships to disclose.
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abstractFull article available online at OrthoSuperSite.com/view.asp?rID=41916Bicondylar tibial plateau fractures can be difficult to treat due to the extent of articular cartilage, metaphyseal bone, and soft tissue injury. The purpose of this study was to compare the outcomes of open reduction and locked plating vs fine-wire external fixation of 58 consecutive bicondylar tibial plateau fractures at a level I trauma center. All bicondylar tibial plateau fractures were classified as Schatzker V/VI or AO/OTA type 41C. Twenty-eight patients in one group were treated using a locked plating system, and 30 patients in another group were treated with a hybrid or circular external fixation frame. The 2 groups were similar demographically. When compared with external fixation, locked plating was associated with a decreased time to union (5.9 vs 7.4 months), decreased incidence of articular malunion (7% vs 40%; P=.003), decreased knee stiffness (4% vs 13%), and decreased overall complications (27% vs 48%). The Schatzker VI subgroup accounted for 25 of the 27 complications (93%) in the locked plating group and 40 of the 48 complications (83%) in the external fixation group. We reserve the use of external fixation devices in the treatment of tibial plateau fractures to span the fracture site until the patient is amenable to definitive fixation with locked plating.