The suprapatellar approach for intramedullary tibial nailing has become widely accepted over the past decade. A round sleeve is passed beneath the patella to protect the surface of the patellofemoral joint (PFJ). However, the round sleeve cannot be easily stabilized in the PFJ because it does not conform to the shape of the patellar apex. Consequently, we produced a heart-shaped sleeve to simplify the insertion of the entry sleeve during the suprapatellar approach. Using the new sleeve, the following procedure is used: (1) make a longitudinal 4 cm skin incision proximal to the patella to reach the PFJ, (2) insert the guide pin manually to the ventral edge of the tibial plateau, (3) insert the cannulated trocar along the guide pin, (4) insert the heart-shaped sleeve along the cannulated trocar, (5) remove the cannulated trocar, (6) ream the entry point through the heart-shaped sleeve. Then, continue insertion of the nail in the standard manner. Among 44 patients (29 men, mean age 45.6 years, range 26-87 years) with tibial fractures treated between 2010 and 2015, the first 18 consecutive cases were performed using a round sleeve and the rest were performed using the heart-shaped sleeve. The surgery time until entry reaming commenced was 8.9 min (range 6-12 min) using the round sleeve and 6.2 min (range 3-12 min) using the heart-shaped sleeve (P < 0.05). The heart-shaped sleeve is easily stabilized in the PFJ and greatly simplifies the intramedullary nailing of tibial shaft fractures using the suprapatellar approach.
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