Distal fibular fractures are extremely common, yet there remains controversy about which type of plating technique is the most appropriate. We aimed to compare clinical and biomechanical outcomes following posterior antiglide plating and lateral neutralization plating for Weber B distal fibular fractures.

A systematic review and meta-analysis of the literature was conducted by two independent reviewers according to the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses guidelines. We included all comparative studies of distal fibular fracture fixation with either a posterior antiglide plate or a lateral neutralization plate. Our primary outcome of interest was reoperation for hardware removal. Secondary outcomes included hardware discomfort, peroneal tendon irritation, infection, wound complications, and mechanical torque to failure.

A total of 1122 patients with Weber B ankle fractures were included across nine eligible clinical studies, and 76 cadaveric ankles were subject to testing across three eligible biomechanical studies. Meta-analyses revealed a two-fold greater odds of requiring removal of hardware in the lateral plating group compared to the posterior plating group (odds ratio [OR] 2.48, 95% CI 1.58 to 3.91, P < .0001), and a three-fold greater odds of experiencing hardware discomfort in the lateral plating group compared to the posterior plating group (OR 2.96, 95% CI 1.83 to 4.80, P < .0001). There were no significant differences in rates of peroneal tendon irritation, infection, wound complications, operative time, and torque to failure when comparing the two plating methods.

The results of this review indicate that using posterior antiglide plating for distal fibular Weber B-type fractures is associated with significantly fewer reoperations due to hardware complications and less hardware discomfort compared to lateral neutralization plating. This technique does not appear to increase the risk of peroneal tendon irritation or increase operative time.