Thirteen patients with isolated distal femoral fractures were treated by external fixation. There were seven males and six females with an average age of 45 years. Four were Type A3 fractures, one Type C1, five Type C2 and three Type C3 fractures. Seven of these were open. In seven cases the articular surface was first reduced and fixed. The fixation was extended across the knee to supplement the distal fixation in six severe cases. The average follow up was 30 months.
There was one non-union in the study with the average time to union in the other patients being six months. Using the Mize criteria for assessing clinical results we found that nine patients obtained a good to excellent score and four were classed as failures. The average range of movement of the knee in the study was 100°. Apart from the single non-union all the fractures healed and there were no other serious complications.
Considering the severity of the fractures we did not find any evidence to suggest that temporary fixation of the lateral soft tissues by fixator pins was detrimental. The results suggest that external fixation may be used to treat these difficult fractures without the risk of serious complications.
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Accepted: September 28, 1999
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