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J Am Acad Orthop Surg. 2009 Oct;17(10):647-57.

Failure of fracture plate fixation.

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Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO 63110, USA.


Failure of fracture fixation after plating often leads to challenging surgical revision situations. Careful analysis of all patient and fracture variables is helpful in both determining the causes of the fixation failure and maximizing the success of subsequent interventions. Biologic and mechanical factors must be considered. Biologic considerations include traumatic soft-tissue injury and atrophic fracture site. Common mechanical reasons for failure include malreduction, inadequate plate length or strength, and excessive or insufficient construct stiffness. Reliance on laterally based implants in the presence of medial comminution may be a cause of fixation failure and subsequent deformity, particularly with conventional nonlocking implants. Management of dead space with cement or beads has been effective in conjunction with staged approaches. An antibiotic cement rod in the diaphysis may provide fracture stabilization. Locking full-length constructs should be considered for osteoporotic fractures.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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