The current available evidence for the use of bone graft substitutes in the management of subchondral bone defects associated with tibial plateau fractures as to their efficiency and safety has been collected following a literature review of the Ovid MEDLINE (1948-Present) and EMBASE (1980-Present). Nineteen studies were analysed reporting on 672 patients (674 fractures), with a mean age of 50.35 years (range 15-89), and a gender ratio of 3/2 males/females. The graft substitutes evaluated in the included studies were calcium phosphate cement, hydroxyapatite granules, calcium sulphate, bioactive glass, tricalcium phosphate, demineralised bone matrix, allografts, and xenograft. Fracture healing was uneventful in over 90% of the cases over a variant period of time. Besides two studies reporting on injectable calcium phosphate cement excellent incorporation was reported within 6 to 36 months post-surgery. No correlation was made by any of the authors between poor incorporation/resorption and adverse functional or radiological outcome. Secondary collapse of the knee joint surface ≥ 2 mm was reported in 8.6% in the biological substitutes (allograft, DBM, and xenograft), 5.4% in the hydroxyapatite, 3.7% in the calcium phosphate cement, and 11.1% in the calcium sulphate cases. The recorded incidence of primary surgical site and donor site infection (3.6%) was not statistically significant different, however donor site-related pain was reported up to 12 months following autologous iliac bone graft (AIBG) harvest. Shorter total operative time, greater tolerance of early weight bearing, improved early functional outcomes within the first year post-surgery was also recorded in the studies reporting on the use of injectable calcium phosphate cement (Norian SRS). Despite a lack of good quality randomised control trials, there is arguably sufficient evidence supporting the use of bone graft substitutes at the clinical setting of depressed plateau fractures.
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