Improvement of tibial fracture healing

Editor: | 10. December 2018

Improvement of tibial fracture healing with the help of pulsed magnetic therapy was attempted by the team of W. J. Sharrard (1990) on 45 patients and the findings were subsequently published in the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery.

A total of 45 fractures of the tibial bone were included in this study. They all received standard treatment, but the average duration of treatment had already been exceeded by more than 16 but less than 32 weeks due to delayed union. The fractures were selected for their liability to delayed union by the presence of moderate or severe displacement, angulation or comminution or a compound lesion with moderate or severe injury to skin and soft tissues.

All patients received additional treatment by plaster fixation, but only the active group (20 patients) underwent pulsed electromagnetic stimulation.  The remaining 25 patients were enrolled in the placebo group. The study lasted 12 weeks. Radiographs were evaluated blindly by independent radiologist and orthopedic surgeon.

Statistical analysis prior to initiation of therapy showed that all patients were comparable in all parameters except age. But age did not affect the result and effect of treatment.

Independent evaluation of the active group by the radiologist confirmed union of fracture in five patients and a significant improvement of fractures in another 5 patients. In the remaining 10 patients in the active group, there was no significant change. In the control group, there was only one union confirmed and improvement noticed only in one patient. The remaining 23 patients in the control group did not show any change.

These results thus highlighted the significant difference between the two groups. The results of the active group were, according to Fisher’s exact test, significantly better. Additionally, orthopedist’s assessment confirmed the union of 9 fractures and 11 unhealed fractures in the active group. On the other hand, it also testified to 3 unions and 22 unhealed fractures in the control group. So even this ended up significantly better for the active group.

Pulsed magnetic therapy thus significantly affects the healing of tibial fractures. It not only significantly reduces the time necessary for treatment, but also improves union of bones.

Reference: Sharrard, W. J. (1990). A double-blind trial of pulsed electromagnetic fields for delayed union of tibial fractures. The Journal Of Bone And Joint Surgery. British Volume, 72(3), 347-355.

A double-blind trial of pulsed electromagnetic fields for delayed union of tibial fractures

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Related diagnosis: Fractures

Find out more about PEMF: Principle of Pulse Electromagnetic Field Therapy (PEMF)