Objective: To compare the traditional approach of intramedullary nail with an extra plate versus the nail combined with blocking screws for proximal tibia fractures without the knee involved.
Methods: From January 2013 to January 2017, a total of 36 patients who suffered from proximal tibial fractures unaffecting the knee were enrolled into this prospective study, and divided into two groups by random number table method. Of them, 19 patients received an interlocking intramedullary nail combined with an extra plate for internal fixation of the fractures (the plate group), while the remaining 17 patients had fractures fixed with the nail combined with blocking screws (the screw group). The perioperative, follow-up and radiographic data were compared between the two groups.
Results: All the 36 patients underwent operation smoothly without iatrogenic neurovascular injuries. The plate group proved superior the screw group regarding to operation time and intraoperative X-ray exposure (P＜0.05) , nevertheless the former was inferior to the latter in implant cost and hospital stay (P＜0.05) . The follow-up period lasted for 12～24 months with a mean of (15.62±4.71) months. There were no statistically significant differences in the time to return ambulation and the time to full weight-bearing activity between the two groups (P＞0.05) . At the latest follow up, no statistically significant differences were found between the two groups regarding knee range of motion and Johner-Wruhs grades for clinical consequences (P＞0.05) . In terms of anterior knee pain, the difference between the two groups was not statistically significant (P＞0.05) . In respect of radiographic assessment, the plate group had significantly less residual malalignment than the screw group, including anteroposterior and lateral displacements, as well as angulations in coronal and sagittal planes (P＜0.05) . To the latest follow up, all patients in both group got bony healing of the fractures without a statistical difference in fracture healing time between them (P＞0.05) , and no loosening or breaking of the implants were showed on images in anyone of them.
Conclusion: Both the nail plus plate and nail plus blocking screw do achieve satisfactory clinical outcomes for proximal tibial fractures unaffecting the knee. By comparison, the nail combined with plate facilitates to regain and maintain better alignment of the leg regardless of higher implant cost.