Linear external skeletal fixation applied in minimally invasive fashion for stabilization of nonarticular tibial fractures in dogs and cats

Alec H Sherman, Karl H Kraus, Danielle Watt, Lingnan Yuan, Jonathan P Mochel
Vet Surg. 2022 Nov 16. doi: 10.1111/vsu.13911.

Objective: The objective of this study was to evaluate the use of linear external skeletal fixation (ESF) applied using minimally invasive techniques in dogs and cats.

Study design: Retrospective study.

Animals: Forty-nine dogs and 6 cats.

Methods: Medical records of cases with nonarticular tibial fractures, repaired using linear ESF at a single academic institution between July 2010 and 2020, were reviewed. All records of cases that had nonarticular tibial fractures repaired using linear ESF were included. Information was collected regarding signalment, surgical procedures performed, perioperative care, radiographic evaluation, and postoperative complications.

Results: Intraoperative imaging was used in 40/55 (72%) of cases. Tibal plateau angle (TPA), tibial mechanical medial proximal and distal tibial angles (mMPTA and mMDTA, respectively) were not affected by intraoperative imaging (P = .344, P = .687, P = .418). A total of 22 (40%) complications occurred. Of these, 18 were considered minor and 4 were considered major. Open fractures had more major complications than closed fractures (P = .019). All fractures reached radiographic union of the fracture. The mean ± SD time to external fixator removal was 71 ± 48 days.

Conclusion: Linear ESF applied using minimally invasive techniques with or without intraoperative imaging was an effective treatment for nonarticular tibial fractures.

Clinical significance: Closed application of linear ESF should be considered as a minimally invasive option for stabilizing nonarticular tibial fractures.