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J Bone Joint Surg Br. 2010 Apr;92(4):527-34. doi: 10.1302/0301-620X.92B3.22996.

Are extreme distal periprosthetic supracondylar fractures of the femur too distal to fix using a lateral locked plate?

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Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Washington University School of Medicine/Barnes-Jewish Hospital, St Louis, Missouri 63110, USA.


It is unclear whether there is a limit to the amount of distal bone required to support fixation of supracondylar periprosthetic femoral fractures. This retrospective multicentre study evaluated lateral locked plating of periprosthetic supracondylar femoral fractures and compared the results according to extension of the fracture distal with the proximal border of the femoral prosthetic component. Between 1999 and 2008, 89 patients underwent lateral locked plating of a supracondylar periprosthetic femoral fracture, of whom 61 patients with a mean age of 72 years (42 to 96) comprising 53 women, were available after a minimum follow-up of six months or until fracture healing. Patients were grouped into those with fractures located proximally (28) and those with fractures that extended distal to the proximal border of the femoral component (33). Delayed healing and nonunion occurred respectively in five (18%) and three (11%) of more proximal fractures, and in two (6%) and five (15%) of the fractures with distal extension (p = 0.23 for delayed healing; p = 0.72 for nonunion, Fisher's exact test). Four construct failures (14%) occurred in more proximal fractures, and three (9%) in fractures with distal extension (p = 0.51). Of the two deep infections that occurred in each group, one resolved after surgical debridement and antibiotics, and one progressed to a nonunion. Extreme distal periprosthetic supracondylar fractures of the femur are not a contra-indication to lateral locked plating. These fractures can be managed with internal fixation, with predictable results, similar to those seen in more proximal fractures.

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