Evidence-based update on the surgical treatment of pediatric tibial shaft fractures.

Research paper by Aristides I AI Cruz, Jeremy E JE Raducha, Ishaan I Swarup, Jonathan M JM Schachne, Peter D PD Fabricant

Indexed on: 22 Nov '18Published on: 22 Nov '18Published in: Current opinion in pediatrics


To describe surgical treatment options for pediatric tibial shaft fractures which are the third most common pediatric long bone fracture. Management of these injuries is dictated by fracture location, fracture pattern, associated injuries, skeletal maturity, and other patient-specific factors. Although most pediatric tibial shaft fractures can be treated nonoperatively, this review provides an update on surgical treatment options when operative intervention is indicated. Advances in surgical implants and techniques affords a wide range of options for the surgical treatment of pediatric tibial shaft fractures. Flexible intramedullary nailing is gaining wide adoption for acute surgical treatment. Recent studies support cross-sectional imaging for further evaluation and scrutiny of fracture patterns suspicious for intraphyseal or intra-articular extension. Grade I open tibial shaft fractures may be safely treated with irrigation and debridement in the emergency department; however, no high-level comparative studies have been performed to make any definitive conclusions regarding the effectiveness of this treatment strategy. Tibial shaft fractures are common injuries in pediatric patients. Management is dictated by fracture location, fracture pattern, associated injuries, patient age, and other patient-specific factors. Surgical intervention is indicated for fractures that are open, irreducible, have failed nonoperative management, are associated with compartment syndrome, or in the multiply injured patient. Surgical treatment options include flexible intramedullary nailing, plate osteosynthesis, external fixation, and rigid intramedullary nailing. Recent literature has shown increased rates of flexible intramedullary nailing. All operative and nonoperative management options can result in complications including compartment syndrome, infection, delayed union, nonunion, malunion, limb length discrepancy, and symptomatic hardware. Most pediatric patients go on to uneventful union with excellent final outcomes and return to full activities.