To fix or not to fix? the role of fibular fixation in distal shaft fractures of the leg

M. Berlusconi, L. Busnelli, F. Chiodini, N. Portinaro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background The role of stabilisation of the fibula in distal two-bone fractures of the leg is controversial. Some studies indicate the need for fibular stabilisation in 43 AO fractures, but few studies consider the role of the fibula in 42 AO fractures. The aim of the current paper is to explain the role of stabilisation of the fibula in 42 AO fractures, correlating the rates of healing and non-union between patients with and without fibula fixation. Materials and methods A total of 60 patients with 42 AO (distal) shaft fracture of the tibia with associated fracture of the fibula were selected. Patients were divided into two groups according to whether or not the fibula was fixed: Group I (n = 26) comprised patients who had their fibula fixed while Group II (n = 34) comprised patients who did not. The fibular fracture was classified according to the AO and related to the level of the tibial fracture. Other parameters examined were the union rate of the two groups correlated to the fracture pattern and position of the fibular fracture; the demographic data, such as age and gender; the presence of an open fracture, and the type of tibial fixation device used (nail or plate). Results None of the parameters considered (open injury, AO classification, device used and level of the fibular fracture relative to the tibial) were shown to have an influence on the development of a non-union. Conclusion This study showed a higher non-union rate when the fracture of the tibia and fibula were at the same level, the tibia was fixed with a bridging plate and the fibula left untouched. For this reason, we recommend fibular fixation in all 42 distal fractures when both fractures lie on the same plane and the tibial fracture is relatively stabilised.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)408-411
Number of pages4
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2014


  • Distal shaft leg fractures
  • Fibular osteosynthesis
  • Union rate

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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