Background: Distal tibia fractures are one of the most common bony injuries and have a significant rate of nonunion and delayed union. Multiple methods for the management of distal tibia fractures exist. Among the plating methods, there is bridge plating and compression plating. The evidence is still lacking as to whether one method has a higher rate of union than the other. The aim of this study was to assess the rate of union of extra-articular distal tibia fractures with the use of biological fixation with bridge plating versus rigid fixation with compression plating.
Methods: A retrospective analysis of 41 adult patients with distal tibia fractures was performed. Patients were divided into two groups based on the fixation method: bridge plating versus compression plating. Baseline characteristics, fracture characteristics, and union status were analyzed and compared.
Results: Baseline and fracture characteristics were similar between the groups. Only higher translation in any plane was noted in the bridge plating group (2.80 ± 3.04 mm, p= <0.001). As for union status, the rates of union at three months versus delayed/no union were similar between the two groups (p= 0.18). At six-month follow-up, 92% and 93.8% of patients had achieved union in the bridge plating and compression plating groups, respectively.
Conclusion: The rates of delayed union and non-union are similar for extra-articular distal tibia fractures treated with either bridge plating or compression plating.
Level of evidence: II