Isolated Buttress Plating of Posterior Wall Acetabular Fractures: Is it Sufficient?

Document Type : RESEARCH PAPER


1 Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Harborview Medical Center, University of Washington, Seattle, USA

2 Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Boston University, Boston Medical Center, Boston, USA


Background: Conventional fixation methods of posterior wall acetabular fractures feature the use of plating and lag
screws. However, fixation of posterior wall fractures with buttress plating alone offers potential advantages by avoiding
the hardware complications related to hardware placement through the wall fragment. The purpose of this study was
to examine if buttress plating alone, without screw fixation through the wall would be a viable method of treating these
fractures. Our hypothesis was that this technique would not result in loss of reduction.
Methods: Consecutive series of patients with isolated posterior wall acetabular fractures treated by two independent
surgeons at two Level I Trauma centers without screw fixation across the fracture (Boston Medical Center/Harborview
Medical Center).
Results: All 72 fractures treated without a screw through the posterior wall fragment maintained reduction at an
average of 1.6 years post-operatively. For fractures fixed with buttress plating alone, 92 % were reduced within 2 mm
of being anatomic compared to 94 % of fractures that had screws cross the fracture.
Conclusion: The described buttress plating technique without screw fixation in the wall is an acceptable form of
fixation for posterior wall acetabular fractures without the theoretical risk of intra-wall screw fixation.
Level of evidence: III