Are Rush Nails Still a Good Choice for Fibula Fixation in Ankle Fractures? A Retrospective Study with Five Years Follow Up

Document Type : RESEARCH PAPER


Department of Trauma and Orthopedics, Sapienza University of Rome, Sant’Andrea Hospital, Rome, Italy


Objectives: The aim of this retrospective study is to evaluate if Rush nail fixation still has a role in distal 
fibular fractures surgery compared with locking plate in terms of fixation quality, complications, 
functional results and patient satisfaction level.
Methods: This study included 109 patients (average age 56.05), who had undergone operative treatment for bi- or 
trimalleolar fractures between 2009 and 2014. The patients were evaluated retrospectively, divided in group A (57 
patients treated with Rush nail) and group B (52 patients treated with locking plate). The patients were evaluated at 
an average 4.9 years of follow-up (SD: 1.01) with Olerud-Molander Ankle Score (OMAS), American Orthopaedic 
Foot and Ankle Society - Ankle-Hindfoot Scale (AOFAS) and Visual Analogue Scale (VAS) for clinical outcomes. Xrays were conducted to assess ankle osteoarthritis using the classification system by Takakura and joint space 
symmetry using measurements in comparison with contralateral ankles.
Results: The groups were homogeneous regarding age and gender. Patients treated with Rush Nail fixation (Group 
A) showed statistically significant worse clinical results at functional scores (78.1 Group A versus 88.7 Group B at 
the OMAS (P<0.05); 83.1 Group A versus 90.1 Group B at the AOFAS (P<0.05); higher pain levels in the VAS (3.9 
Group A versus 2.4 Group B) and lower satisfaction rates (52.6% Group A versus 73.1% Group B (P<0.05)) in 
comparison with patients treated with locking plate fixation (Group B). However, infections rate was significantly 
lower in Group A (1.8%) than in Group B (9.6%) (P<0.05). Radiographic evaluation showed more cases of posttraumatic osteoarthritis in Group A (35.1% Group A versus 15.4% Group B (P<0.05)) and worse results in regards 
to restoration of joint space symmetry (45.6% Group A versus 73.1% Group B (P<0.05)).
Conclusion: Results of current study indicates that even though plating of lateral malleolus in bimalleolar and 
trimalleolar fractures is superior in fracture reduction quality, early functional recovery, reduced incidence of posttraumatic osteoarthritis and greater patient satisfaction, Rush nail fixation still provides acceptable clinical results 
with a lower infection rate. Therefore Rush nails could be considered as a valid choice in selected patients with high 
risk of soft tissue complications or low functional demand.
 Level of evidence: III


Main Subjects

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