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J Trauma. 2011 Sep;71(3):614-9. doi: 10.1097/TA.0b013e3182041175.

Using external and internal locking plates in a two-stage protocol for treatment of segmental tibial fractures.

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Department of Orthopedics, E-Da Hospital/I-Shou University, Kaohsiung, Taiwan.



The tibial segmental fractures usually follow high-energy trauma and are often associated with many complications. We designed a two-stage protocol for these complex injuries. The aim of this study was to assess the outcome of tibial segmental fractures treated according to this protocol.


A prospective series of 25 consecutive segmental tibial fractures were treated using a two-stage procedure. In the first stage, a low-profile locking plate was applied as an external fixator to temporarily immobilize the fractures after anatomic reduction had been achieved followed by soft-tissue reconstruction. The second stage involved definitive internal fixation with a locking plate using a minimally invasive percutaneous plate osteosynthesis technique. The median follow-up was 32 months (range, 20-44 months).


All fractures achieved union. The median time for the proximal fracture union was 23 weeks (range, 12-30 weeks) and that for distal fracture union was 27 weeks (range, 12-46 weeks; p = 0.08). Functional results were excellent in 21 patients and good in 4 patients. There were three cases of delayed union of distal fracture. Valgus malunion >5 degrees occurred in two patients, and length discrepancy >1 cm was observed in two patients. Pin tract infection occurred in three patients.


Use of the two-stage procedure for treatment of segmental tibial fractures is recommended. Surgeons can achieve good reduction with stable temporary fixation, soft-tissue reconstruction, ease of subsequent definitive fixation, and high union rates. Our patients obtained excellent knee and ankle joint motion, good functional outcomes, and a comfortable clinical course.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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