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  • Author: Elena Gálvez-Sirvent x
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Elena Gálvez-Sirvent, Aitor Ibarzábal-Gil, and E. Carlos Rodríguez-Merchán

  • In aseptic tibial diaphyseal nonunions after failed conservative treatment, the recommended treatment is a reamed intramedullary (IM) nail.

  • Typically, when an aseptic tibial nonunion previously treated with an IM nail is found, it is advisable to change the previous IM nail for a larger diameter reamed and locked IM nail (the rate of success of renailing is around 90%).

  • A second change after an IM nail failure is also a good option, especially if bone healing has progressed after the first change.

  • Fibular osteotomy is not routinely advised; it is only recommended when it interferes with the nonunion site.

  • In delayed unions before 24 weeks, IM nail dynamization can be performed as a less invasive option before deciding on a nail change.

  • If there is a bone defect, a bone graft must be recommended, with the gold standard being the autologous iliac crest bone graft (AICBG).

  • A reamer-irrigator-aspirator (RIA) system might also obtain a bone autograft that is comparable to AICBG.

  • Although the size of the bone defect suitable to perform bone transport techniques is a controversial issue, we believe that such techniques can be considered in bone defects > 3 cm.

  • Non-invasive therapies and biologic therapies could be applied in isolation for patients with high surgical risk, or could be used as adjuvants to the aforementioned surgical treatments.

Cite this article: EFORT Open Rev 2020;5:835-844. DOI: 10.1302/2058-5241.5.190077

Elena Gálvez-Sirvent, Aitor Ibarzábal-Gil, and E Carlos Rodríguez-Merchán

  • Open reduction and internal fixation is the gold standard treatment for tibial plateau fractures. However, the procedure is not free of complications such as knee stiffness, acute infection, chronic infection (osteomyelitis), malunion, non-union, and post-traumatic osteoarthritis.

  • The treatment options for knee stiffness are mobilisation under anaesthesia (MUA) when the duration is less than 3 months, arthroscopic release when the duration is between 3 and 6 months, and open release for refractory cases or cases lasting more than 6 months. Early arthroscopic release can be associated with MUA.

  • Regarding treatment of acute infection, if the fracture has healed, the hardware can be removed, and lavage and debridement can be performed along with antibiotic therapy. If the fracture has not healed, the hardware is retained, and lavage, debridement, and antibiotic therapy are performed (sometimes more than once until the fracture heals). Fracture stability is important not only for healing but also for resolving the infection.

  • In cases of osteomyelitis, treatment should be performed in stages: aggressive debridement of devitalised tissue and bone, antibiotic spacing and temporary external fixation until the infection is resolved (first stage), followed by definitive surgery with grafting or soft tissue coverage depending on the bone defect (second stage).

  • Intra-articular or extra-articular osteotomy is a good option to correct malunion in young, active patients without significant joint damage. When malunion is associated with extensive joint involvement or the initial cartilage damage has resulted in knee osteoarthritis, the surgical option is total knee arthroplasty.