Intrmedullary versus extramedullary fixation of lateral malleolus fractures

Int J Surg. 2015 Oct;22:54-61. doi: 10.1016/j.ijsu.2015.07.697. Epub 2015 Aug 5.


Introduction: Intramedullary nails (IM nails) now include dedicated fibular nails for lateral malleolus fractures. This study reviewed nail versus plate for fixation of unstable ankle fractures.

Design: Systematic review and meta-analysis of published reports.

Results: Four studies met the inclusion criteria, including 375 patients. Two included studies were randomised-control studies and two were non-randomised case series. The implants investigated included: Knowles Pins, Fibular Nails, Rush Rods and Inyo Nails. The overall risk of bias was high. Pooled data showed a statistically significant lower risk of wound infection (RR 0.10; 95% CI 0.02 to 0.44), symptomatic hardware (RR 0.14; 95% CI 0.05 to 0.35) and removal of hardware (RR 0.57; 95% CI 0.39 to 0.81) with intramedullary nail fixation.

Conclusions: There is a paucity of literature upon which to draw reliable conclusions. There was a high risk of bias towards favourable outcomes for the nail group. It would appear that intramedullary nail fixation of distal fibular fractures can outperform conventional fixation with plate and screws. There is a need for adequately powered, scientific trials.

Keywords: Fibula; Fracture; Intramedullary; Lateral malleolus; Nail.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Ankle Fractures / surgery*
  • Bone Nails*
  • Bone Plates*
  • Fracture Fixation, Internal / instrumentation*
  • Humans