Analysis of 101 Mechanical Failures in Distal Femur Fractures Treated with 3 Generations of Precontoured Locking Plates

Cory Alan Collinge, Alexander Francis Reeb, Andres Felipe Rodriguez-Buitrago, Michael T. Archdeacon, Michael J. Beltran, Michael J. Gardner, Kyle James Jeray, Anna N. Miller, Brett D. Crist, Stephen A. Sems, Nihar Samir Shah, Nathaniel Fogel, Meagan Tibbo

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Objectives:To evaluate mechanical treatment failure in a large patient cohort sustaining a distal femur fracture treated with a distal femoral locking plate (DFLP).Design:This retrospective case-control series evaluated mechanical treatment failures of DFLPs.Setting:The study was conducted at 8 Level I trauma centers from 2010 to 2017.Patients and Participants:One hundred one patients sustaining OTA/AO 33-A and C distal femur fractures were treated with DFLPs that experienced mechanical failure.Intervention:The intervention included the treatment of a distal femur fracture with a DFLP, affected by mechanical failure (implant failure by loosening or breakage).Main Outcome Measure:The main outcome measures included injury and DFLP details; modes and timing of failure were studied.Results:One hundred forty-six nonunions were found overall (13.4%) including 101 mechanical failures (9.3%). Failures occurred in different manners, locations, and times depending on the DFLPs. For example, 33 of 101 stainless steel (SS) plates (33%) failed by bending or breaking in the working length, whereas no Ti plates failed here (P < 0.05). Eleven of 12 failures with titanium-Less Invasive Stabilization System (92%) occurred by lost shaft fixation, mostly by the loosening of unicortical screws (91%). Sixteen of 44 variable-Angled-LCP failures (36%) occurred at the distal plate-screw junction, whereas only 5 of 61 other DFLPs (8%) failed this way (P < 0.05). Distal failures occurred on average at 23.7 weeks compared with others that occurred at 38.4 weeks (P < 0.05). Variable-Angled-LCP distal screw-plate junction failures occurred earlier (mean 21.4 weeks).Conclusion:Nonunion and mechanical failure occurred in 14% and 9% of patients, respectively, in this large series of distal femur fracture treated with a DFLP. The mode, location, presence of a prosthesis, and timing of failure varied depending on the characteristics of DFLP. This information should be used to optimize implant usage and design to prolong the period of stable fixation before potential implant failures occur in patients with a prolonged time to union.Level of Evidence:Economic Level IV. See Instructions for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8-13
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of orthopaedic trauma
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2023


  • Plate failure
  • breakage
  • failure
  • locked plate
  • locking plate
  • loss of fixation
  • plate breakage


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