Background: Although the appropriate management of condylar process fractures after miniplate or microplate fixation has been described, there has been no comparative analysis of these plating systems.
Methods: A retrospective review of patients who underwent open reduction and internal fixation (ORIF) of condylar head or neck fractures at our institution from January 2000 through August 2010 identified 70 patients. Of these, 38 were treated with microplates and 32 with miniplates. The primary functional and radiographic results were the maximal mouth opening and condylar bone resorption, respectively. The rates of complications, including malocclusion, chin deviation, temporomandibular joint complaints, and facial nerve palsy, were recorded.
Results: The maximal mouth opening was larger in the microplate group than in the miniplate group throughout the follow-up period; this difference was statistically significant 12 (P = 0.020), 18 (P = 0.026), and 24 (P = 0.032) months after ORIF. Similarly, the radiographic scores for bone resorption and condyle morphology were significantly better in the microplate group than in the miniplate group throughout the follow-up period [6 (P = 0.011), 12 (P = 0.035), 24 (P = 0.026), and 48 (P = 0.040) months after ORIF]. Moreover, patients who underwent miniplate fixation experienced a significantly higher incidence of temporomandibular joint click than those who underwent microplate fixation (P = 0.014).
Conclusions: Microplates limit dissection, providing excellent fixation for intracapsular condylar head fractures, and also provide adequate rigidity for fixation of condylar neck fractures. Microplate fixation of condylar head and neck fractures yielded excellent functional and radiographic results. The rates of complications after microplate fixation were equal to or less than those in the miniplate group. Prospective studies are needed to confirm these findings.