The clinical performance of a small diameter tibial nailing system with a mechanical distal aiming device
We present the clinical and radiographic results of a prospective study with the Orthofix tibial nailing system. The ease and safety of distal locking with the use of an improved targeting system was also evaluated. Sixty fresh tibial fractures in 60 patients with a mean age of 37.3 years (range 17-73 years) were treated. Eighteen of the fractures were grade I open fractures. All operations were performed in a conventional operating theatre on a simple transparent operating table, with reduction of the fracture performed under manual traction and manipulation of the fracture site. Hand reaming was then performed to ensure, where possible, the insertion of a nail of at least 9 mm in diameter. Fracture healing was observed at a mean of 17 weeks (12-28 weeks). No tibial non-unions occurred in our series, and only three fractures, two segmental and one severely comminuted, showed delayed union. No infection, either superficial or deep, was found and no cardio-pulmonary complications were recorded. Following surgery, all patients gained a full range of pain-free movement of the ankle and knee joints and only six patients (10%) complained of mild anterior knee pain. All patients returned to their previous jobs one month after fracture healing had been confirmed clinically and radiographically. Following nailing, no deviation from normal tibial alignment was detected. No mechanical failure of either the nails or the locking screws was recorded. The mean duration of operation (skin to skin) was 30 min (range 20-45 min) and the mean total theatre time was 55 min (range 40-75 min). The mean total intensification time was 5 s. In total, 120 distal locking screws were inserted using the external targeting device. All attempts at distal locking except five (4.2%) were successful with two failures in the same patient being a result of inappropriate use of the system. We conclude that this nailing system is clinically effective and that distal locking can be performed easily, without exposure to radiation. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.