Fractures and refractures after femoral locking compression plate fixation in children and adolescents

Tali Becker, Daniel Weigl, Eyal Mercado, Kalman Katz, Elhanan Bar-On

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Locking compression plates (LCPs) are being increasingly utilized in fixation of fractures and osteotomies in the pediatric population. However, plate insertion or removal may pose a risk of femoral fractures or refractures. The goal of this study was to analyze failure patterns associated with LCPs and identify possible contributing factors. METHODS: The sample included all patients who underwent fixation of femoral fractures or osteotomies utilizing straight LCPs at a tertiary pediatric medical center from 2004 to 2009. All were followed up until fracture union. The charts and radiographs were reviewed, and data on demographics, indications, surgical technique, and timing of plate removal were summarized. In cases of failure, the timing, circumstances, fracture location, and refixation method were recorded. RESULTS: Thirty-seven patients underwent 41 straight LCP fixations during the study period. The indication for surgery was acute femoral fracture in 25 procedures (25 patients) and elective osteotomy or limb lengthening in 16 procedures (12 patients). Thirty-five plates were removed after complete clinical and radiographic union. The time from plate fixation to removal averaged 13 months (range, 5 to 34 mo) in the fracture group and 17.6 months (range, 7.5 to 28 mo) in the osteotomy group. Five procedures (12%) were complicated by femoral fractures or refractures: 2 occurred after the index surgery-1 at the proximal screw and 1 through the original fracture site, with plate breakage. Three patients sustained refractures after plate removal, all at the original fracture or regenerate site: 1 after a fall and 2 spontaneously. The average time from plate removal to refracture was 18 days (range, 10 to 30). There were no differences in demographics, timing, or technique between patients with and without complications. CONCLUSIONS: Although LCPs are considered flexible fixators, they may carry the risk of overstiffness, similar to external fixators. Further clinical and biomechanical studies are needed to evaluate risk factors for fractures or refractures, particularly in children. There seems to be an increase in risk of refracture immediately after plate removal. Caution should be taken in the first weeks after plate removal. LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Level IV.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e40-e46
JournalJournal of Pediatric Orthopaedics
Volume32
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2012

Keywords

  • IMN intramedullary nail
  • LCP locking compression plate
  • refracture

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