To determine whether suprapatellar nailing (SPN) over time can decrease operative time and radiation exposure when compared with infrapatellar nailing (IPN) of tibial shaft fractures.
Single, Level 1 trauma center.
Extra-articular adult tibial shaft fractures treated with intramedullary nailing alone within a 7-year period.
Patients were treated with SPN or IPN techniques based on the discretion of the operating surgeon.
Main Outcome Measurements:
Operative time and radiation exposure.
Three hundred forty-one fractures (SPN: 177, IPN: 164) were included in the analysis. No differences in patient body mass index, sex, or open fracture incidence existed between the 2 groups. A significant difference in average operative time (IPN 130 minutes vs. SPN 110 minutes, P < 0.01), fluoroscopy time (IPN 159 minutes vs. SPN 143 minutes, P = 0.02), and radiation dose (IPN 8.6 mGy vs. SPN 6.5 mGy, P < 0.01) existed between IPN and SPN. Early tibias treated with SPN had similar operative times (P = 0.11), fluoroscopy time (P = 0.94), and radiation dose (P = 0.34) compared with IPN. Later SPN patients had significantly lower operative time (P = 0.03), fluoroscopy time (P < 0.01), and radiation dose (P < 0.013) compared with earlier SPN. Regression analysis revealed with the increased use of SPN, operative time, fluoroscopy time, and radiation dose significantly decreased (P = 0.018, 0.046, 0.011).
Tibia fractures treated with SPN have significantly decreased operative times and radiation exposure compared with those treated with IPN, after allowing time for the surgeon to gain sufficient experience with the technique. The surgeon should consider this when deciding to adopt this technique.
Level of Evidence:
Therapeutic Level III. See Instructions for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.