The treatment of posttraumatic diaphyseal bone defects (BD) calls on a number of techniques including bone transport techniques: isolated shortening, compression-distraction at the fracture site, shortening followed by lengthening in a corticotomy distant from the site and segmental bone transport.
Patients and methods
The multicenter retrospective study combined 38 cases: 22 cases of initial diaphyseal bone defect and 16 cases of secondary diaphyseal BD, sometimes associated with metaphyseal or metaphyseal-epiphyseal BD, involving the humerus, the forearm, the femur and the tibia. These techniques were mainly used on the lower extremity (33 cases), for the most part on the tibia (22 cases) in young men.
Bone healing was acquired in 37 cases out of 38 after a mean 14.9months (range, 6–62months). A mean 4.3 secondary interventions were required to obtain final union; most notably, a bone graft was necessary at the docking site for the segmental bone transport procedures.
Many reconstruction techniques can be proposed to treat posttraumatic BD. None responds to all situations. Bone transport techniques have their place and their indications. Isolated shortening is intended for bone loss not exceeding 3cm, notably in the humerus and to a lesser degree in the lower extremity. Shortening associated with lengthening is valuable in the femur and the tibia for bone loss up to 6cm. Segmental bone transport is the only technique that can treat bone defects associated with shortening in the lower limb. For substantial bone loss beyond 10cm, segmental bone transport is particularly indicated. However, these cases of substantial bone loss tend to be resolved by a hybridization of the procedures. The distraction gap of a bone segment can, for example, be prepared using an induced-membrane technique.
Level of evidence
Level IV. Retrospective study.
Keywords : Bone transport, Nonunion, Bone loss, Bone defect, Posttraumatic reconstruction