The aim of the present study was to evaluate the use of previously frozen, thawed platelet gel supplementation to accelerate the healing of long bone nonunions treated by external fixation.
Prospective case series with historical controls.
Twenty patients affected by tibial, humeral, or forearm atrophic nonunions were treated by percutaneous stabilization with unilateral external fixators and injection of autologous platelet gel. The healing time was compared to the result obtained in a historical control group treated without platelet gel supplementation.
Main Outcome Measurements:
Consolidation rate and radiographic healing time of nonunions in the 2 groups were assessed by independent blinded observers. The nonunion was judged to be healed when bridging callus formation on both radiographic views was observed on at least 3 of 4 cortices.
The healing rate of nonunion was 90% (18/20) in platelet gel cases and 85% (17/20) in controls, respectively (P = 0.633). The mean time until radiographic consolidation in nonunions supplemented with platelet gel (147 ± 63 days) was not different to the result in the control group (153 ± 61 days; P = 0.784). Analyzing the mean healing time for separate segments, no differences were noted between study and control group-that is, tibia: 112 ± 43 and 130 ± 5 days, respectively (P = 0.382); humerus, 225 ± 36 and 202 ± 70 days, respectively (P = 0.530).
The present study failed to show the clinical usefulness of isolated percutaneous platelet gel supplementation in long bone nonunions treated by external fixation; however, caution should be exercised in interpreting this result because the actual numbers are small and the statistical power is limited.