Archives of Orthopaedic and Trauma Surgery

, Volume 127, Issue 5, pp 313–320 | Cite as

Long-term results of various therapy concepts in severe pilon fractures

  • Panagiotis KoulouvarisEmail author
  • Kosmas Stafylas
  • Gregory Mitsionis
  • Marios Vekris
  • Alexandros Mavrodontidis
  • Theodore Xenakis
Trauma Surgery



Intra-articular fractures of the tibia plafond are among the most challenging of orthopaedic problems. This is a retrospective case-control study of surgically treated pilon fractures which was undertaken to compare the internal fixation with the two external fixation methods.


This is a case-control study of 55 patients with 55 pilon fractures. There were 36 type C and 19 type B. Of these fractures, 24 were open and 31 closed. Three surgical protocols were used. In 20 patients, Group A, a half pin external fixator with ankle spanning was performed. The mean age of patients was 42.0 years (22.0–74.0), SD 14.1 and the mean follow-up was 77.7 months (38.0–132.0), SD 25.4. In 22 patients, Group B, a single ankle sparring ring hybrid external fixator under a small arthrotomy was performed. The mean age of patients was 48.4 years (28.0–76.0), SD 12.4 and mean follow-up was 67.9 months (36.0–132.0), SD 27.8. In 13 patients, Group C, a two-staged internal fixation was performed. The mean age was 45.6 years (30.0–66.0), SD 9.7 and the mean follow-up was 78.6 months (55.0–132.0), SD 25.4. We addressed the dissimilarity of the type of fracture in each group performing supplementary stratified analyses within each fracture type group.


Group A had union in 6.9 months, group B in 5.6 months and group C in 5.1 months; P = 0.009. Six patients (Group A), two (Group B), and one (Group C) had limitation of ankle motion; P = 0.47. One patient from group C developed infection and the plate was removed. Four patients (Group A), one (Group B), and one (Group C) have developed posttraumatic arthritis (loss of joint space and pain); P = 0.25. Seven patients from Group A have reduced their activities; P = 0.004. In stratified statistical analysis by type of fracture, the associations noted for both fracture groups combined were also noted separately within each fracture group.


In this long term follow-up study, the two-staged internal fixation and the hybrid fixation with small arthrotomy were equally efficacious in achieving bone union. Patients in external fixation with the ankle spanning had a significantly higher rate of delayed union. Also more patients in this group have reduced their activities.


Pilon Internal fixation Hybrid fixation External fixation 



The corresponding author thanks Dr. Scarmeas MD, MS for his help in statistical analysis of the data in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Panagiotis Koulouvaris
    • 1
    Email author
  • Kosmas Stafylas
    • 2
  • Gregory Mitsionis
    • 2
  • Marios Vekris
    • 2
  • Alexandros Mavrodontidis
    • 2
  • Theodore Xenakis
    • 2
  1. 1.Hospital for Special Surgery—Reconstruction of JointsWeill Medical School of Cornell UniversityNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.Orthopaedic DepartmentUniversity Hospital of IoanninaIoanninaGreece

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