Unilateral external fixation for severe pilon fractures.
Twenty-one patients with severe tibial plafond fractures were treated by unilateral large screw external fixation. In 15 patients, this was combined with limited internal fixation. The fractures were classified according to the methods of Ovadia and Beals. There were nine type III, four type IV, and eight type V fractures, and according to the methods of Rüedi and Allgöwer, nine type II and 12 type III fractures. Seven fractures were open. In five fractures, no attempt was made at articular reconstruction due to severe comminution. Four of these fractures required ankle arthrodeses and one type IIIB fracture received a late amputation. All other fractures healed. There were no cases of wound infection, skin slough, or osteomyelitis. Large screw external fixation in the talus and calcaneus was not associated with significant early or late complications. The less extensive tissue dissection in an area prone to wound complications may account for the low rates of infections, wound complications, and nonunion.