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J Orthop Trauma. 2006 Sep;20(8):536-41.

Tibial plafond fractures treated by articulated external fixation: a randomized trial of postoperative motion versus nonmotion.

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  • 1University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, Iowa City, IA 52242-1008, USA.



Assess whether postoperative ankle motion after fixation of a fracture of the tibial plafond, treated with articulated external fixation, leads to a better outcome when compared with similar treatment without postoperative ankle motion.


Multicenter randomized trial.


Three Level I trauma centers.


Fifty-five patients were enrolled and entered into a Web-based database and randomized into 1 of 2 groups. Forty-one patients were evaluated at a 1-year follow-up visit, and 31 were seen at 2 years or longer after injury.


Patients were treated with a hinged external fixator and limited internal fixation of the articular surface. They were divided postoperatively into two groups, 1 of which had a locked hinge and the other had a mobile hinge and a motion protocol.


A general health status questionnaire, the SF-36 (short-form 36); a joint-specific ankle questionnaire, the Ankle Osteoarthritis Score (AOS); and range of motion (ROM) of the ankle joint.


There were no significant differences between the two groups at either follow-up interval in the ankle ROM measurement, the AOS pain and disability scale, or the SF-36 physical component summary (PCS) and mental component summary (MCS) scales.


These results indicate that treatment protocols that use long periods of cross-joint external fixation that immobilizes the ankle as definitive treatment result in similar patient outcomes compared to otherwise identical treatment protocols that incorporate and use an articulated hinge for ankle motion. However, the results should be interpreted with caution because the patient numbers were too small to detect potentially meaningful differences in outcomes and the follow-up was too short to assess for differences in the development of arthrosis.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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