Clinical and functional outcomes of internal fixations of displaced pilon fractures

Andrew Sands, Les Grujic, Dann C. Byck, Julie Agel, Stephen Benirschke, Marc F. Swiontkowski

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68 Scopus citations


The clinical and functional outcomes for patients treated with open reduction and plate fixation of displaced tibial pilon fractures were determined. A retrospective search of the authors' trauma database was conducted for AO and Orthopaedic Trauma Association Code 43 injuries (pilon fractures) in adults 18 years or older who were treated between December 1988 and December 1992. The group of 64 patients who required open reduction and internal fixation to treat their fractures make up the primary cohort for this analysis. Twenty of these cases required no fibular fixation; the remainder were mostly fixed with 1/3 tubular or 3.5-mm compression plates. Tibial fixation was done using most commonly 3.5-mm cloverleaf plates, 1/3 tubular plates, or both. Of the 64 patients treated with open reduction and internal replacement, four (5%) patients had deep infection develop. Two (7%) of 14 patients had open fractures, and two (4%) of 50 patients had closed fractures. Three of these four patients smoked tobacco products; one was also an intravenous drug abuser. Staphylococcus aureus was the organism in two cases; Enterobacter, in the other two. The infection was controlled with a free flap in two cases, with antibiotics and wound debridement in one, and with an arthrodesis in one. Thirty of the 64 patients completed the Short Form-36; two of these patients had bilateral fractures. The study group had significant differences in general health perceptions, physical function, physical role function, emotional role function, social and mental function, and pain and energy levels when compared with age matched population data and patients with tibial plateau fractures. The effect of other injuries on these functional status results cannot be determined specifically.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)131-137
Number of pages7
JournalClinical orthopaedics and related research
StatePublished - 1998


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