The Surgical Management of Tibial Spine Fractures in Children: A Survey of the Pediatric Orthopaedic Society of North America (POSNA)

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Abstract

Background:

Tibial spine fractures are rare, complex injuries. Management remains varied given a lack of consensus about the optimal approach. Thus, the purpose of this study is to determine prevailing strategies among pediatric orthopaedists and establish areas of agreement and ongoing controversy in the management of tibial spine fractures.

Methods:

An electronic survey was distributed to the Pediatric Orthopaedic Society of North America (POSNA) membership. Surgeon demographics, experience, and responses to clinical vignettes were collected. Surgeons were grouped according to how frequently they treat tibial spine fractures and responses were compared.

Results:

Of the 180 POSNA members who completed the survey, all were attending surgeons and nearly all (90.4%) had academic affiliations, treated mostly skeletally immature patients (88.5%), and 3 or fewer fractures per year (62.4%). In younger patients, respondents were more likely to treat type II fractures closed and less likely to cross the physis. Arthrofibrosis was the most commonly reported complication and postoperative duration of immobilization was identified as a risk factor by most. However, high-frequency surgeons identified this risk factor more often (P=0.015) and recommended immobilization for <2 weeks more frequently (P=0.018). There was, however, considerable discrepancy regarding the duration of immobilization. Although there were areas of agreement on general principles, there continues to be disagreement regarding specific treatment strategies.

Conclusions:

Surgeons within POSNA agree on general principles of treatment for tibial spine fractures. Members, regardless of high-volume or low-volume caseload, are all less likely to pursue surgical options when treating younger patients and treating arthrofibrosis during the first 2 postoperative months. The most commonly reported adverse outcome after treatment was arthrofibrosis, for which high-frequency surgeons identified length of immobilization as a significant risk factor more often and thus, recommended shorter periods of immobilization. Although surgeons may agree on general principles in some cases, there continues to be disagreement regarding specific strategies suggesting that a prospective multicenter study of this topic is warranted.

Level of Evidence:

Level V.

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