Strategies in Trauma and Limb Reconstruction

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VOLUME 16 , ISSUE 2 ( May-August, 2021 ) > List of Articles

Original Article

Clinical and Functional Outcomes in Patients with Distal Tibial Fracture Treated by Circular External Fixation: A Retrospective Cohort Study

Vasileios P Giannoudis, Emma Ewins, D Martin Taylor, Patrick Foster, Paul Harwood

Keywords : Acute treatment, Ankle arthrodesis, Distal tibia fracture, Functional outcome, Ilizarov, Infection, Pin-site infection

Citation Information : Giannoudis VP, Ewins E, Taylor DM, Foster P, Harwood P. Clinical and Functional Outcomes in Patients with Distal Tibial Fracture Treated by Circular External Fixation: A Retrospective Cohort Study. 2021; 16 (2):86-95.

DOI: 10.5005/jp-journals-10080-1516

License: CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

Published Online: 27-10-2021

Copyright Statement:  Copyright © 2021; The Author(s).


Aims and objectives: To examine clinical and functional outcomes in patients with intra- and extra-articular distal tibial fractures treated definitively by Ilizarov fixation. Materials and methods: Patients with tibial fractures extending within 1 Müller square of the ankle joint were identified from our Ilizarov database over a 5-year period. Data on treatment and outcome were assembled from this database and supplemented by a review of patient records. General measures of health-related quality of life and limb-specific functional outcome scores were recorded. Adverse events were documented according to Paley's classification. Results: One hundred and sixty-eight patients with 169 fractures were identified, 28% were open and 63% intra-articular. One hundred and sixty-five (98%) of the fractures united, two following bone grafting in their original frames, at a median of 166.5 days (range 104–537). Three patients with nonunions united with further treatment. One patient (an end-stage diabetic) elected to undergo amputation following multiple early complications during treatment. Closed fractures united more rapidly than open (median 157 vs 183 days; p = 0.005) and true Pilon (43C3) fractures took longer to unite than other fractures (median 157 vs 177 days; p = 0.01). Sixty-seven percent of patients completed functional outcome scores. Sixty-two percent reported good or excellent ankle scores at more than 6 months post frame removal, 38% fair and 10% poor. Patients with intra-articular fractures reported significantly worse ankle scores than those with extra-articular injuries. General measures of health-related quality of life (EuroQol-5D) revealed significant ongoing effects despite good clinical outcomes. Conclusion: This study demonstrates a high union and low serious complication rate, suggesting that external ring fixation is a safe and effective treatment for these injuries.

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