Intramedullary nail fixation versus locking plate fixation for adults with a fracture of the distal tibia: the UK FixDT RCT.
Costa ML., Achten J., Hennings S., Boota N., Griffin J., Petrou S., Maredza M., Dritsaki M., Wood T., Masters J., Pallister I., Lamb SE., Parsons NR.
BACKGROUND: The best treatment for fractures of the distal tibia remains controversial. Most of these fractures require surgical fixation, but the outcomes are unpredictable and complications are common. OBJECTIVES: To assess disability, quality of life, complications and resource use in patients treated with intramedullary (IM) nail fixation versus locking plate fixation in the 12 months following a fracture of the distal tibia. DESIGN: This was a multicentre randomised trial. SETTING: The trial was conducted in 28 UK acute trauma centres from April 2013 to final follow-up in February 2017. PARTICIPANTS: In total, 321 adult patients were recruited. Participants were excluded if they had open fractures, fractures involving the ankle joint, contraindication to nailing or inability to complete questionnaires. INTERVENTIONS: IM nail fixation (n = 161), in which a metal rod is inserted into the hollow centre of the tibia, versus locking plate fixation (n = 160), in which a plate is attached to the surface of the tibia with fixed-angle screws. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: The primary outcome measure was the Disability Rating Index (DRI) score, which ranges from 0 points (no disability) to 100 points (complete disability), at 6 months with a minimum clinically important difference of 8 points. The DRI score was also collected at 3 and 12 months. The secondary outcomes were the Olerud-Molander Ankle Score (OMAS), quality of life as measured using EuroQol-5 Dimensions (EQ-5D), complications such as infection, and further surgery. Resource use was collected to inform the health economic evaluation. RESULTS: Participants had a mean age of 45 years (standard deviation 16.2 years), were predominantly male (61%, 197/321) and had experienced traumatic injury after a fall (69%, 223/321). There was no statistically significant difference in DRI score at 6 months [IM nail fixation group, mean 29.8 points, 95% confidence interval (CI) 26.1 to 33.7 points; locking plate group, mean 33.8 points, 95% CI 29.7 to 37.9 points; adjusted difference, 4.0 points, 95% CI -1.0 to 9.0 points; p = 0.11]. There was a statistically significant difference in DRI score at 3 months in favour of IM nail fixation (IM nail fixation group, mean 44.2 points, 95% CI 40.8 to 47.6 points; locking plate group, mean 52.6 points, 95% CI 49.3 to 55.9 points; adjusted difference 8.8 points, 95% CI 4.3 to 13.2 points; p