Authors of section

Author

Mary Sarah Bergh

Executive Editor

Amy Kapatkin

General Editor

Noel Moens

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Bridging plate

1. Principles

If anatomical reconstruction cannot be accomplished or is not desirable, a bridging technique should be used.

Bridging plate in a dog distal femoral fracture

2. Positioning and approach

This procedure is performed with the patient placed in either of the two positions:

The lateral parapatellar approach is used.

3. Surgical technique

Reduction and preliminary stabilization

The fracture is aligned with pointed reduction forceps. Anatomic alignment is desired in all cases.

The fracture is aligned with pointed reduction forceps

Preliminary stabilization may be achieved with reduction forceps or K-wires, depending on the fracture configuration.

Preliminary stabilization can be achieved with reduction forceps

Validation of alignment and rotation

Once the bone length has been restored, it is necessary to check for correct alignment and rotation. Rotational alignment can be judged by palpation or by direct visualization of the greater trochanter and femoral trochlea. The distal part of the femur is held in a true lateral position. The position of the greater trochanter and alignment of the adductor magnus muscle are then inspected.
If the femur is correctly aligned in the axial plane the adductor magnus muscle should be aligned and the greater trochanter should be slightly caudal to the long axis of the bone.

Validation of alignment and rotation

Plate selection

Numerous plate types can be used. Specially designed plates for the distal femur are available.

Ideally the plate should be long enough to place at least three screws on either side of the fracture plane. In this location, the use of only two screws in the distal fragment is acceptable.

Numerous plate types can be used to repair a type A fracture in a dog distal femur

Plate placement

The plate is contoured to the lateral aspect of the distal femur. The plate position and contouring to the bone is checked thoroughly and adjusted, if required.

Note: Care should be taken to avoid placement of the plate high on the lateral trochlear ridge, where it can impinge on patellar tracking and result in pain and discomfort.

A detailed description of "Plate preparation" can be found here.

The plate is contoured to the lateral aspect of the distal femur

Plate fixation in non-reconstructed fractures

Careful attention to alignment of the limb is important, to avoid torsional or angular deformities which can affect patellar tracking and limb function.

Screws are placed in a near-near far-far pattern. The remaining screw holes are filled. If a screw holes lays over the fracture plane it should be left open.

Note: Care should be taken to avoid penetrating the articular surface with the screws. Where possible at least one screw should traverse both condyles.

Screws are placed in a near-near far-far pattern

Fixation with a locking plate

If a locking plate is used, only 2-3 locking bicortical screws are needed per main fragment. One advantage of using a locking plate is that precise contouring is not necessary. Great care must be taken when contouring the distal part of the locking plate to avoid directing screws into the joint.

Note: If a combination of cortex and locking screws is used, the plate must be anatomically contoured at the sites of non-locking screw insertion. The non-locking screws must be inserted and tightened before any locking screws are placed.

If a locking plate is used, only 2-3 locking bicortical screws are needed per main fragment

Validation of fixation

Postoperative radiographs should be taken to assess the repair.

4. Aftercare

Activity restriction and controlled walking is indicated until evidence of bone healing is detected by radiographic examinations.

cross pinning

Phase 1: 1-3 day after surgery

The aim is to reduce the edema, inflammation and pain using anti-inflammatory and analgesic medications.

Passive range of motion of the hip and stifle joint can be initiated to promote mobility and joint health.

cross pinning

Phase 2: 4-10 days after surgery

The aim is to resolve the hematoma, edema and control pain, and prevent muscle contracture.

Anti-inflammatory and analgesic medications are still needed. Rehabilitation and integrative medical therapies can be used.

Special attention should be given to patients less than 1 year of age with a femoral fracture, as they are at risk for developing quadriceps contracture. Early controlled activity and passive range of motion is strongly recommended to help prevent this complication.

If the patient is not starting to use the limb within few days after surgery, a careful evaluation is recommended.

cross pinning

Phase 3: 10 days-8 weeks after surgery

Rehabilitation therapy is continued.

10-14 days after surgery the sutures are removed.

Radiographic assessment is performed every 4-8 weeks until bone healing is confirmed.

cross pinning

Implant removal

Implants may be removed if there is irritation or infection present, however if they are not causing problems for the patient, there is no need for implant removal.