To assess clinical, radiographic, and functional outcomes after intramedullary nail (IMN) fixation of tibia fractures with an infrapatellar approach compared to a suprapatellar approach.
Retrospective chart review.
Level 1 trauma center.
Two hundred four patients with 208 tibia fractures treated with intramedullary nailing between 2008 and 2018.
A retrospective chart review of tibia fractures was conducted. The clinical and functional outcomes of tibia fractures treated with IMN were compared between groups treated with an infrapatellar approach versus a suprapatellar approach. Multivariate models were created to control for confounding demographic, comorbidity, and injury-related confounders.
Main Outcome Measurements:
Outcome measures included nonunion, malunion, and infection. Subjective functional patient outcomes were assessed using pain interference and physical function Patient-Reported Outcome Measurements Systems scores.
There were 101 patients treated with infrapatellar nailing (49%) and 107 patients treated with suprapatellar nailing (51%). On multivariate analysis, suprapatellar nailing was independently associated with decreased risk of malunion (adjusted odds ratio, 0.165; 95% confidence interval, 0.054–0.501; P = 0.001) and decreased risk of postoperative knee pain (adjusted odds ratio, 0.272; 95% confidence interval, 0.083–0.891; P = 0.032). There was no difference in the rate of nonunion (P = 0.44), infection (P = 0.45), or Patient-Reported Outcome Measurements Systems pain interference or physical function scores.
Suprapatellar IMN fixation of tibial shaft fractures is independently associated with lower risk of malunion and postoperative knee pain compared to the infrapatellar approach. However, there are no functional differences between approaches.
Level of Evidence:
Therapeutic Level III. See Instructions for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.