Single incision open reduction and double plate fixation of complex tibial plateau fractures has been associated with high wound complication rates. Minimally invasive methods have been recommended to decrease the wound complication rates as compared with open techniques. Additionally, laterally applied fixed-angle devices appear to minimize late varus deformity without the need for additional medial stabilization. Accurate reduction of comminuted lateral and/or medial articular surfaces, however, often requires visualization through an open reduction. This study reports the complications, infection rate, and radiographic assessment of reduction associated with double plating complex AO/OTA 41-C3 tibial plateau fractures utilizing 2 incisions.
Retrospective clinical review.
Urban level 1 university trauma center.
Over a 77-month period, 83 patients were treated for a complex bicondylar tibial plateau fracture at our institution utilizing a 2-incision technique.
Dual plating using anterolateral and posteromedial incisions.
Main Outcome Measure:
Type and incidence of septic and non-septic complications and radiographic assessment of articular reduction and axial alignment.
Eleven fractures were open (13.3%) and classified according to Gustilo as type II (1 patient), type III-A (7 patients), type III-B (2 patients), and type III-C (1 patient). Compartment syndrome was diagnosed and treated with fasciotomies in 12 patients (14.5%). The average time interval from injury to definitive surgical treatment was 9 days. Seven patients developed deep wound infections (8.4%). Three of these had an associated septic arthritis (3.6%). Clinical resolution of infection occurred after an average of 3.3 additional procedures. The presence of a dysvascular limb requiring vascular reconstruction was statistically associated with a deep wound infection (P = 0.006). Secondary procedures for complications included 13 patients who required removal of implants secondary to local discomfort, 5 patients who required a knee manipulation, 2 patients that were managed with excision of heterotopic ossification to improve knee motion, 1 patient that required an equinus contracture release, and 1 patient treated for a metadiaphyseal nonunion. Sixteen patients (19.3%) incurred deep venous thromboses. No patient was diagnosed with pulmonary embolism. Sixty-two percent of patients demonstrated satisfactory articular reductions, 91% demonstrated satisfactory coronal alignment, 72% demonstrated satisfactory sagittal alignment, and 98% demonstrated satisfactory condylar width.
Comminuted bicondylar tibial plateau fractures can be successfully treated with open reduction and medial and lateral plate fixation using 2 incisions. Dysvascular limbs requiring vascular repair are at increased risk for deep sepsis. The use of 2 incisions, temporary spanning external fixation, and proper soft-tissue handling may contribute to a lower wound complication rate than previously reported.