Working length and proximal screw constructs in plate osteosynthesis of distal femur fractures

Injury. 2017 Nov;48(11):2597-2601. doi: 10.1016/j.injury.2017.08.064. Epub 2017 Sep 1.


Background: The study purpose is to evaluate the working length, proximal screw density, and diaphyseal fixation mode and the correlation to fracture union after locking plate osteosynthesis of distal femoral fractures using bridge-plating technique.

Methods: A four-year retrospective review was performed to identify patients undergoing operative fixation of distal femur fractures with a distal femoral locking plate using bridge-plating technique for the metadiaphyseal region. Primary variables included fracture union, secondary surgery for union, plate working length, and diaphyseal screw technique and configuration. Multiple secondary variables including plate metallurgy and coronal plane fracture alignment were also collected.

Results: Ninety-six patients with distal femur fractures with a mean age 60 years met inclusion criteria. None of the clinical parameters were statistically significant indicators of union. Likewise, none of the following surgical technique parameters were associated with fracture union: plate metallurgy, the mean working length, screw density and number of proximal screws and screw cortices. However, diaphyseal screw technique did show statistical significance. Hybrid technique had a statistically significant higher chance of union when compared to locking (p=0.02). All proximal locking screw constructs were 2.9 times more likely to lead to nonunion.

Conclusions: Plating constructs with all locking screws used in the diaphysis when bridge-plating distal femur locking plates were 2.9 times more likely to incur a nonunion. However, other factors associated with more flexible fixation constructs such as increased working length, decreased proximal screw number, and decreased proximal screw density were not significantly associated with union in this study.

Keywords: Bridge-plating technique; Distal femur fractures; Fracture union; Locking plates and screws.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Bone Plates*
  • Bone Screws*
  • Female
  • Femoral Fractures / diagnostic imaging
  • Femoral Fractures / physiopathology
  • Femoral Fractures / surgery*
  • Fracture Fixation, Internal / instrumentation*
  • Fracture Fixation, Internal / methods
  • Fracture Healing / physiology*
  • Fractures, Malunited / diagnostic imaging
  • Fractures, Malunited / physiopathology
  • Fractures, Malunited / surgery*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult