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Osteoporotic ankle fractures: A narrative review of management options

Dhillon MS1Rajnish RK1Patel S1Chouhan DK1Bansal T2.

J Clin Orthop Trauma. 2020 May-Jun;11(3):380-387. doi: 10.1016/j.jcot.2019.10.010. Epub 2019 Nov 4.



The management of Osteoporotic ankle fractures is still considered to be a challenge by many surgeons. One of the issues seems to be a lack of data focused on this special subgroup, with very little evidence of good quality. We did a narrative review of the literature in an attempt to identify the magnitude of the problem and to evaluate the evidence in support of management options.The current review of the literature has brought to light some interesting facts. Despite limited data there seems to be an in increase in the incidence of these fractures. Although we could not demonstrate any clear distinction between geriatric and osteoporotic ankle fractures from the available literature; it is clear that all geriatric fractures are not necessarily osteoporotic and neither is the reverse true. The evidence to associate osteoporotic ankle fractures with poor outcomes is weak, and factors other than osteoporosis may have a stronger influence. From this analysis, we could not establish a higher incidence of implant failure for this specific fracture group, although many modifications in technique have been proposed due to the fear of fixation failure. Hook plating and Tibia-pro fibula fixation have weak evidence in support, but posterior fibular plating is preferred due to soft tissue protection. There is weak evidence in support of Locking plates for these fractures, as publications focused on this are limited; nevertheless some advantages have been documented. Augmentation by calcium based bone graft substitutes has been reported to improve pull out strengths of screws, but again the evidence of its role in Osteoportic fractures is limited. Fibular nailing has been proposed with specific advantages in osteoporotic fibular fractures, but the concept is new and it is indicated only in a select a subgroup of cases. Some evidence exists for the use of trans-articular nails in geriatric subgroups with limited pre-injury mobility, but the technique has to be used with caution to prevent other complications.


More data needs to be accumulated before clear guidelines for management of osteoporotic ankle factures are defined; however the current literature supports the need for modifications in standard ankle facture fixation methods to improve outcomes.