Background: The role of locking plate in lateral malleolar fracture fixation for the elderly remains unclear. The aim of our study is to compare radiological and functional outcomes in older patients (> 50 years) with AO/OTA 44B lateral malleolar fractures after locking plate (PLP) or one-third non-locking tubular plate (TP) lateral fixation. Methods: We retrospectively reviewed the medical records of 72 patients (PLP group, 34 patients; TP group, 38 patients; mean age, 61.9 ± 7.6 years; range, 51-80 years; follow-up, 1 year). Patients with open fractures, syndesmosis injuries, and a previous ankle trauma or surgery were excluded. Demographic data, union rate, complications, radiographic outcomes, visual analog scale (VAS) scores, and foot and ankle outcome scores (FAOSs) between the groups were recorded and compared. We also investigated the association of clinical features with pain and function. Statistically, the Fisher's exact test was used for categorical variables and the Mann-Whitney U test for the continuous variables. The final model for the multiple regression analysis was used to predict factors related to functional outcomes. Results: There were no significant between-group differences in demographic data, complication rates, immediately postoperative distal fibula lengths, ankle osteoarthritis (OA) grades, talar tilt angles (TTAs) ≥ 2°, or reduction accuracy. All fractures achieved union. The PLP group had significantly lower rates of distal screw loosening, fibula shortening > 2 mm, OA grade progression, and TTAs ≥ 2°, and better FAOSs and VAS scores than was the case for the TP group after 1 year of follow-up (all p < 0.05). The severity of OA, TTA ≥ 2°, and distal screw loosening were positively associated with VAS scores, and negatively associated with FAOSs. Conclusions: When treating AO/OTA 44B fractures in patients over 50 years of age, PLPs provided better VAS scores, FAOSs, and radiological outcomes, including less fibula shortening > 2 mm, less osteoarthritic (OA) ankle progression, less implant removal rate, and fewer TTAs ≥ 2° than was the case for TPs after a 1-year follow-up.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes