Tension Band Plating for Chronic Anterior Tibial Stress Fractures in High-Performance Athletes


Background: Anterior tibial stress fractures are associated with high rates of delayed union and nonunion, which can be particularly devastating to a professional athlete who requires rapid return to competition. Current surgical treatment strategies include intramedullary nailing, which has satisfactory rates of fracture union but an associated risk of anterior knee pain. Anterior tension band plating is a biomechanically sound alternative treatment for these fractures.

Hypothesis: Tension band plating of chronic anterior tibial stress fractures leads to rapid healing and return to physical activity and avoids the anterior knee pain associated with intramedullary nailing.

Study Design: Case series; Level of evidence, 4.

Methods: Between 2001 and 2013, there were 13 chronic anterior tibial stress fractures in 12 professional or collegiate athletes who underwent tension band plating after failing nonoperative management. Patient charts were retrospectively reviewed for demographics, injury history, and surgical details. Radiographs were used to assess time to osseous union. Follow-up notes and phone interviews were used to determine follow-up time, return to training time, and whether the patient was able to return to competition.

Results: Cases included 13 stress fractures in 12 patients (9 females, 3 males). Five patients were track-and-field athletes, 4 patients played basketball, 2 patients played volleyball, and 1 was a ballet dancer. Five patients were Division I collegiate athletes and 7 were professional or Olympic athletes. Average age at time of surgery was 23.6 years (range, 20-32 years). Osseous union occurred on average at 9.6 weeks (range, 5.3-16.9 weeks) after surgery. Patients returned to training on average at 11.1 weeks (range, 5.7-20 weeks). Ninety-two percent (12/13) eventually returned to preinjury competition levels. Thirty-eight percent (5/13) underwent removal of hardware for plate prominence. There was no incidence of infection or nonunion.

Conclusion: Anterior tension band plating for chronic tibial stress fractures provides a reliable alternative to intramedullary nailing with excellent results. Compression plating avoids the anterior knee pain associated with intramedullary nailing but may result in symptomatic hardware requiring subsequent removal.



  • The authors declared that they have no conflicts of interest in the authorship and publication of this contribution.

Autor / Fonte:Robert M Zbeda, Peter K Sculco, Ekaterina Y Urch, Lionel E Lazaro, Olivier Borens, Riley J Williams, Dean G Lorich, David S Wellman, David L Helfet American Journal of Sports Medicine 2015 March 31
Link: http://ajs.sagepub.com/content/early/2015/03/31/0363546515577355.abstract