Does Provisional Plating of Closed Tibia Fractures Have Higher Complication Rates?

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To compare infection and nonunion rates after provisional plating (PP) with standard reduction (SR) techniques for closed tibia fractures treated with an intramedullary nail.


Retrospective comparative study.


Level 1 academic trauma center.


Of the 348 closed tibia fractures (Orthopaedic Trauma Association/Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Osteosynthesefragen 42) treated using an intramedullary nail from January 2007 through June 2015, 231 (40 PP and 191 SR) patients met inclusion/exclusion criteria.


The patients received either a provisional plate or an SR before intramedullary nail placement.

Main Outcome Measurement:

Infection and nonunion.


The PP cohort had a significantly higher proportion of high-energy injury mechanism and a significantly higher proportion of diabetes than the SR cohort. We were unable to demonstrate a difference in rates of infection [PP cohort (1/40, 2.5%) vs. SR cohort (6/191, 3.1%), P = 1.0], nonunion [PP cohort (3/40, 7.5%) vs. SR cohort (9/191, 4.7%), P = 0.44], or malunion [PP cohort (0/40, 0%) vs. SR cohort (8/191, 4.2%), P = 0.36]. Symptomatic implant removal was similar between the 2 groups [PP cohort (4/40, 10%) vs. SR cohort (27/191, 14%), P = 0.61].


PP can be used for complex, closed tibia fractures without an increased risk of infection, nonunion, and malunion compared with standard closed reduction techniques.

Level of Evidence:

Therapeutic Level III. See Instructions for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.

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