Problems of bridging plate fixation for the treatment of forearm shaft fractures with the locking compression plate

Philipp Henle, Kevin Ortlieb, Kerstin Kuminack, Christof A Mueller, Norbert P Suedkamp
Archives of Orthopaedic and Trauma Surgery 2011, 131 (1): 85-91

INTRODUCTION: Treatment of diaphyseal forearm fractures by open reduction and internal plate fixation is a well-accepted strategy. In a variety of fracture localizations, the use of bridging plate fixation with locking compression plates (LCP) has been shown to improve biomechanical and biological characteristics. Only very limited clinical data are available on bridging plate fixation using LCPs for the treatment of diaphyseal forearm fractures. The aims of this study were to assess both clinical outcomes of LCP fracture treatments, and the implant-specific advantages and disadvantages.

METHOD: The study consisted of 53 patients. All relevant data were extracted from the medical reports and radiographs. Of the 53 patients, 39 completed the disabilities of the arm, shoulder and hand (DASH) questionnaire and 35 patients were available for clinical examination. The mean time of follow-up was 23.3 months.

RESULTS: Thirty-nine fractures of the radius and 45 fractures of the ulna were treated with 3.5 mm LCPs. Due to a fracture non-union, four patients underwent a second operation. In 13 patients, hardware had already been removed at the time of follow-up. Complete documentation of the removal operation was available for ten patients; in seven of these, procedures difficulties occurred. Mean ranges of motion were 138°, 141° and 162° for elbow flexion-extension, wrist flexion-extension and pronation-supination, respectively. The mean DASH score was calculated at 14.9.

CONCLUSION: In conclusion, our data show that clinical and functional outcomes of LCP plating of diaphyseal forearm fractures are comparable to the use of conventional implants. However, implant-specific problems during hardware removal must be considered.

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