Authors of section


Ricardo Cienfuegos, Carl-Peter Cornelius, Edward Ellis III, George Kushner

Executive Editors

Marcelo Figari, Gregorio Sánchez Aniceto

General Editor

Daniel Buchbinder

Open all credits

ORIF, one large plate

1. Special considerations

2. Selection of approach

These fractures can often be approached and treated through the intraoral approach by those surgeons experienced in the technique of placing a large plate at the inferior border of the mandible using transbuccal trocar instrumentation.

orif two plates basal triangle

However, depending on the difficulty or severity of the fracture, and/or the presence of a laceration suitable, an extraoral approach via the submandibular route is often chosen because this access provides a superior view.

orif reconstruction plate basal triangle

3. Choice of implant

Locking versus nonlocking plates

There are several advantages to a locking plate/screw system:

  1. Conventional plate/screw systems require precise adaptation of the plate to the underlying bone. Without this intimate contact, tightening of the screws will draw the bone segments toward the plate, resulting in alterations in the position of the osseous segments and the occlusal relationship. Locking plate/screw systems offer certain advantages over other plates in this regard; the most significant being that it becomes unnecessary for the plate to intimately contact the underlying bone in all areas. As the screws are tightened, they "lock" to the plate, thus stabilizing the segments without the need to compress the bone to the plate. This makes it impossible for the screw insertion to alter the reduction.
  2. Another potential advantage in locking plate/screw systems is that they do not disrupt the underlying cortical bone perfusion as much as conventional plates, which compress the undersurface of the plate to the cortical bone.
  3. A third advantage to the use of locking plate/screw systems is that the screws are unlikely to loosen from the plate. This means that even if a screw is inserted into a fracture gap, loosening of the screw will not occur. Similarly, if a bone graft is screwed to the plate, a locking head screw will not loosen during the phase of graft incorporation and healing. The possible advantage to this property of a locking plate/screw system is a decreased incidence of inflammatory complications due to loosening of the hardware.
  4. Locking plate/screw systems have been shown to provide more stable fixation than conventional nonlocking plate/screw systems.

Click here for a description of locking plate principles versus conventional plating.

One of the following plates should be chosen for fixation at the inferior border:

  • 6- to 8- hole large profile locking plate 2.0
  • 6- to 8- hole extra-large profile locking plate 2.0
  • 6- to 8- hole locking reconstruction plate 2.4.

With the use of conventional screws, locking plates can be converted into conventional nonlocking plating systems using friction between the plate and the bony surface.

Screw application is bicortical.

Large plate fixation for simple fractures of the body

Further reading

4. Reduction


Rigid fixation of a mandibular fracture in the dentate patients begins with fixation of the occlusion. The surgeon has the choice of using arch bars, MMF screws, or local wiring techniques.

Considerations of which MMF technique to be used will depend on fracture morphology, associated injuries, and personal preference.

Click here for further details on methods for applying MMF.

Two plate fixation of simple body fractures

Anatomic reduction

Using an extraoral approach, forceps can be used to manipulate the mandibular fragments into proper reduction.

Large plate fixation for simple fractures of the body

5. Fixation

Plate selection

For a true load bearing fixation, a reconstruction plate 2.4 should be used. The plate must be long enough so that there can be a minimum of three screws on each side of the fracture. The screws adjacent to the fracture should be at least 7 mm away from the fracture line. Most commonly there will be one or two holes without screws located over the fracture. There are advantages to using a locking reconstruction plate system. Click here for a description of the locking plate principle.

Fixation of a simple body fracture with a large plate

Plate adaptation

The plate must be contoured to the lateral surface of the mandible, flush with the inferior border to avoid injuring the inferior alveolar nerve. In the anterior body region the branches of the mental nerve must be spared during plate introduction and adaption.
Click here to see a step-by-step description of plate bending using locking reconstruction plate.

Fixation of a simple body fracture with a large plate

Securing the plate to the bone with bone clamps

Insert the properly contoured plate onto the lateral surface of the mandible and hold it there using ball pointed reduction forceps. Ideally, one set of forceps is applied anterior and one set posterior to the fracture.

Fixation of a simple body fracture with a large plate

Inserting screws

The sequence of screw insertion is not important if the plate is securely clamped to the bone. Drill guides should always be used to center the screw within the plate hole.
For step-by-step description follow this link.

Fixation of a simple body fracture with a large plate

Completed osteosynthesis

Illustration shows the completed osteosynthesis.

Fixation of a simple body fracture with a large plate

Clinical image of the completed osteosynthesis.

Fixation of a simple body fracture with a large plate

Completed osteosynthesis using a large locking plate 2.0

X-ray shows the completed osteosynthesis with a large locking plate 2.0 in the anterior body region as well as in the contralateral angle.
In this case, the large plate was used because of a mandibular prognathism.

Fixation of a simple body fracture with a large plate

Screws were inserted bicortically as shown in this "worm’s eye view".

Fixation of a simple body fracture with a large plate

Final check

One should then release the MMF and check the occlusion for accuracy before proceeding with closure.

6. Aftercare following ORIF of mandibular symphysis, body, angle and ramus fractures

If arch bars or MMF screws are used intraoperatively, they are usually removed at the conclusion of surgery if proper fracture reduction and fixation have been achieved. Arch bars may be maintained postoperatively if functional therapy is required or if required as part of the fixation.

Postoperative x-rays are taken within the first days after surgery. In an uneventful course, follow-up x-rays are taken after 4–6 weeks.

The patient is examined approximately 1 week postoperatively and periodically thereafter to assess the stability of the occlusion and to check for infection of the surgical wound. During each visit, the surgeon must evaluate the patients ability to perform adequate oral hygiene and wound care, and provide additional instructions if necessary.

Adequate dental care is required in most patients having suffered a mandibular fracture.

If a malocclusion is detected, the surgeon must ascertain its etiology (with appropriate imaging technique). If the malocclusion is secondary to surgical edema or muscle splinting, training elastics may be beneficial. The lightest elastics as possible are used for guidance, because active motion of the mandible is desirable. Patients should be shown how to place and remove the elastics using a hand mirror.

If the malocclusion is secondary to a bony problem due to inadequate reduction or hardware failure or displacement, elastic training will be of no benefit. The patient must return to the operating room for revision surgery.

Follow-up appointments are at the discretion of the surgeon, and depend on the stability of the occlusion on the first visit. If a malocclusion is noted and treatable with training elastics, weekly appointments are recommended.

Postoperatively, patients will have to follow three basic instructions:

1. Diet
Depending upon the stability of the internal fixation, the diet can vary between liquid and semi-liquid to “as tolerated”, at the discretion of the surgeon. Any elastics are removed during eating.

2. Oral hygiene
Patients having only extraoral approaches are not compromised in their routine oral hygiene measures and should continue with their daily schedule.
Patients with intraoral wounds must be instructed in appropriate oral hygiene procedures. The presence of the arch-bars and any elastics makes this a more difficult procedure than normal. A soft toothbrush (dipping in warm water makes it softer) should be used to clean the surfaces of the teeth and arch-bars. Any elastics are removed for oral hygiene procedures. Chlorhexidine oral rinses should be prescribed and used at least three times each day to help sanitize the mouth. For larger debris, a 1:1 mixture of hydrogen peroxide/chlorhexidine can be used. The bubbling action of the hydrogen peroxide helps remove debris. A Waterpik® is a very useful tool to help remove debris from the wires. If a Waterpik is used, care should be taken not to direct the jet stream directly over intraoral incisions as this may lead to wound dehiscence.

3. Physiotherapy
Physiotherapy can be prescribed at the first visit and opening and excursive exercises begun as soon as possible. Goals should be set, and, typically, 40 mm of maximum interincisal jaw opening should be attained by 4 weeks postoperatively. If the patient cannot fully open his mouth, additional passive physical therapy may be required such as Therabite or tongue-blade training.