Background: Submuscular bridge plating has become an acceptable method of treatment for pediatric femur fractures. The purpose of our study was to describe a technique for submuscular bridge plating and review a series of consecutive, length-unstable, pediatric femur fractures treated at a single institution with this technique.
Methods: We performed a query of hospital records from January 4, 2006, to May 10, 2011, to identify length-unstable femur fractures treated with submuscular bridge plating by 5 pediatric surgeons. Included were patients treated with submuscular bridge plating for a femur fracture. Excluded were patients with incomplete medical records, inadequate radiographs, or follow-up <6 months duration. Fifty-one patients met diagnostic criteria; 19 patients were excluded due to incomplete medical records and/or radiographs.
Results: The study cohort included 32 patients with 33 femur fractures. There were 15 left femurs and 18 right femurs, including 1 bilateral fracture patient. Fracture pattern was composed of 13 comminuted, 5 spiral, 9 long oblique, and 6 short oblique. Mechanisms of injury included: fall from height (8), recreation (23), and MVA (2). Mean time for full weightbearing was 8.1 weeks (range, 3 to 17.6 wk). All patients were radiographically healed by their 12-week assessment. There were no intraoperative complications. Implant removal occurred in 26 patients. There were 2 cases of a broken screw discovered upon implant removal. The remnant screw was not removed in either case. The mean follow-up time for those with implant removal was 43.6 weeks (range, 27 to 83 wk). The 11 patients without implant removal had a mean follow-up time of 38.6 weeks (range, 31.6 to 50 wk). There were no cases of varus or valgus malalignment >10 degrees. One patient experienced implant irritation. There were no cases of wound infections.
Conclusions: Our technique of surgical intervention has simplified both implantation and removal, and produced comparable and excellent healing rates, low complication rates, and early return to full weightbearing.
Level of Evidence: Level IV, case series.