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The influence of distal locking on the need for fibular plating in intramedullary nailing of distal metaphyseal tibiofibular fractures

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Using human cadaver specimens, we investigated the role of supplementary fibular plating in the treatment of distal tibial fractures using an intramedullary nail. Fibular plating is thought to improve stability in these situations, but has been reported to have increased soft-tissue complications and to impair union of the fracture. We proposed that multidirectional locking screws provide adequate stability, making additional fibular plating unnecessary. A distal tibiofibular osteotomy model performed on matched fresh-frozen lower limb specimens was stabilised with reamed nails using conventional biplanar distal locking (CDL) or multidirectional distal locking (MDL) options with and without fibular plating. Rotational stiffness was assessed under a constant axial force of 150 N and a superimposed torque of ± 5 Nm. Total movement, and neutral zone and fracture gap movement were analysed.

In the CDL group, fibular plating improved stiffness at the tibial fracture site, albeit to a small degree (p = 0.013). In the MDL group additional fibular plating did not increase the stiffness. The MDL nail without fibular plating was significantly more stable than the CDL nail with an additional fibular plate (p = 0.008).

These findings suggest that additional fibular plating does not improve stability if a multidirectional distal locking intramedullary nail is used, and is therefore unnecessary if not needed to aid reduction.

Cite this article: Bone Joint J 2014;96-B:385–9.

Correspondence should be sent to Dr R. Attal; e-mail:

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