Locked plating as an external fixator in treating tibial fractures: A PRISMA-compliant systematic review

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Abstract

Objectives:

This article is a systematic review of the published literature about the biomechanics, functional outcomes, and complications of a locked plate as an external fixator in treating tibial fractures.

Methods:

We searched the PubMed, Ovid Medline, Embase, ScienceDirect, and Cochrane Library databases to retrieve the relevant studies. Studies published in English and Chinese which assessed adult patients and more than 4 cases who had sustained any type of fresh tibial fracture treated with the external locking plate, provided that they reported functional outcomes, range of motion (ROM), union or complication rates, and the biomechanical studies of external locked plating are also included.

Results:

The electronic search strategy revealed 248 studies, and 2 studies were identified as relevant through manual search of references. Finally, 12 studies were included in this systematic review. These consist of 3 pure biomechanical studies, 8 case series, and 1 study including both of biomechanics and case series. Due to the heterogeneity of biomechanical studies, we can only conclude that external locked plate shows inferior structural stiffness than internal locked plate. The clinical studies reported that external locked plating gave a satisfactory ROM of the knee and ankle, functional outcomes, union rate, and low complication rate.

Conclusions:

We can only conclude that external locked plate shows inferior structural stiffness than internal locked plate because of the heterogeneity of biomechanical studies. The clinical studies showed locked plating as an external fixator in treating tibial fractures can be considered as a safe and successful procedure. However, as yet, there is unconvincing evidence that it is superior to standard techniques with regards to clinical and functional outcomes. More and well-designed studies about this technique should be carried out.

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