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J Bone Joint Surg Br. 1986 May;68(3):462-6.

Spiral fractures of the shaft of the tibia. Initial displacement and stability of reduction.


We have analysed the initial displacement and the retention of position after reduction of 192 spiral fractures of the tibial shaft. In fractures with an initial lateral displacement of one half the width of the shaft or more, successful retention of position after the primary closed reduction was achieved in only 18%. The direction of displacement between the tibial fragments showed little variation; the proximal fragment was always medial and anterior to the distal. This resulted in an increased space between the proximal tibial fragment and the shaft of the fibula in the plane of the interosseous membrane. There was a strong correlation between the initial displacement and the initial shortening. No evidence of a posterior soft-tissue hinge, able to facilitate closed reduction, could be found. Consequently, in treating severely displaced spiral fractures, open reduction and internal fixation or a few weeks' initial calcaneal traction seem to be the rational alternatives.

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