Comminuted fractures of the patella are traditionally treated by internal fixation. The modified tension-band technique is widely accepted for internal fixation. The management of comminuted fractures often requires additional K-wire and/or circlage material and wide surgical exposure. Therefore, symptoms and complications related to the stainless steel wire are not uncommon in these cases. We present a new alternative treatment technique for comminuted patellar fractures.
Five comminuted patellar fractures of four patients were treated by circular external fixator (CEF) under arthroscopic control. The mean patient age was 32.5 (range 24–41) years and mean follow-up was 22 (range 20–28) months.
In four cases, union was completed by the sixth week; in the other case, union was completed by the eighth week. The frames were removed after union of the fracture was documented. When the CEF was removed, full knee range of motion was observed full in all patients, and the patients returned to their normal activities of living in a few days. The mean Lysholm score was 94 (range 85–100) after treatment.
CEF application under arthroscopic control can help avoid some complications of the traditional treatment methods, particularly in comminuted fractures of the patella. The most important advantage of this technique is to allow active knee motion in the early postoperative period so patients can return to activity of daily living soon after the implant removal. In addition, arthroscopic examination of the knee joint provides an assessment of any other intra-articular lesions. This technique allows healing of the fracture with low morbidity.
From the Department of Orthopedic and Traumatology, Gülhane Military Medical Academy (I.Y., E.O., A.S.A., B.D., M.B.), and the Mevki Military Hospital (H.O., M.K), Ankara, Turkey.
Submitted for publication April 28, 2005.
Accepted for publication July 13, 2005.
Address for reprints: Ibrahim Yanmis, MD, GATA Loj. Rider Pasa, Apt. No. 14 Etlik, Ankara 06018, Turkey; email: firstname.lastname@example.org.