Similar Clinical Outcome in Locking and Conventional Plate Osteosynthesis for the Treatment of AO 44-B2 Ankle Fractures

Jan C. Schagemann*, Hanjo Neumann, Jana Schäfers, Andreas Paech, Robert Wendlandt, Ralf Oheim, Arndt Peter Schulz

*Corresponding author for this work


Introduction: Biomechanical studies have proved that locking plates have better primary stability besides versatility regarding fracture pattern while reducing bone contact and bridging the gap, whereas conventional nonlocking plates (plus lag screw) depend on bone-plate compression. The clinical benefit of locking plates over nonlocking plates remains unanswered, however. Therefore, this retrospective cohort study was set up to test the hypothesis that the use of locking plates for unstable ankle fractures will result in fewer re-displacements, superior bony healing, and functional and clinical outcomes better than observed in the nonlocking cohort. Methods: Bimalleolar ankle fractures (AO 44-B2) without syndesmotic injury treated with either a locking or a nonlocking plate were included. Groups were compared for complications, bone healing, secondary dislocation, progressions of osteoarthritis, and clinical outcome using patient-reported outcome measures. Results: Data revealed no clinical outcome differences (Olerud-Molander Ankle Score: nonlocking 88.2 ± 14.4, locking 88.8 ± 12.3, P =.69, robust two 1-sided test for equality (RTOST): P =.03; American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Score: nonlocking 91.2 ± 12.9, locking 91.8 ± 11.3, P =.96, RTOST: P =.04). Nevertheless, a significant postoperative progression of osteoarthritis was detected in both groups (P =.04). This was independent of implant (P =.16). Although difference was not significant, locking plates were preferred in older (P =.78) and sicker patients (P =.63) and in cases with severer osteoarthritis (P =.16), and were associated with a higher complication rate (P =.42) and secondary dislocation (nonlocking 9.4%, locking 18.2%; P =.42). Re-displacement, however, was not a compelling reason for revision. Conclusions: The present study shows statistically significant equality of both types of implants. Contrary to our expectation, locking plates seemed to be associated with a higher risk for re-displacement. Overall, the use of either locking or nonlocking plates for unstable AO 44-B2 fractures is safe and successful despite significant progression of osteoarthritis.

Original languageEnglish
JournalFoot and Ankle Specialist
Publication statusPublished - 23.11.2022

Cite this