header advert
You currently have no access to view or download this content. Please log in with your institutional or personal account if you should have access to through either of these
The Bone & Joint Journal Logo

Receive monthly Table of Contents alerts from The Bone & Joint Journal

Comprehensive article alerts can be set up and managed through your account settings

View my account settings

Get Access locked padlock


Higher complication rate after nail compared with plate fixation of ankle fractures in patients aged 60 years or older: a prospective, randomized controlled trial

Download PDF



The aim of this study was to compare the functional and radiological outcomes and the complication rate after nail and plate fixation of unstable fractures of the ankle in elderly patients.


In this multicentre study, 120 patients aged ≥ 60 years with an acute unstable AO/OTA type 44-B fracture of the ankle were randomized to fixation with either a nail or a plate and followed for 24 months after surgery. The primary outcome measure was the American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society (AOFAS) Ankle-Hindfoot score. Secondary outcome measures were the Manchester-Oxford Foot Questionnaire, the Olerud and Molander Ankle score, the EuroQol five-dimension questionnaire, a visual analogue score for pain, complications, the quality of reduction of the fracture, nonunion, and the development of osteoarthritis.


At 24 months, the median AOFAS score was equivalent in the two groups (nail 90 (interquartile range (IQR) 82 to 100), plate 95 (IQR 87 to 100), p = 0.478). There were statistically more complications and secondary operations after nail than plate fixation (p = 0.024 and p = 0.028, respectively). There were no other significant differences in the outcomes between the two groups.


The functional outcome after nail and plate fixation was equivalent; however, the complication rate and number of secondary operations was significantly higher after nail fixation. These results suggest that plate fixation should usually be the treatment of choice for unstable ankle fractures in the elderly.

Cite this article: Bone Joint J 2023;105-B(1):72–81.

Correspondence should be sent to Ingrid Kvello Stake. E-mail:

For access options please click here