Contouring Plates in Fracture Surgery

Indications and Pitfalls

Julius A. Bishop, MD; Sean T. Campbell, MD; Matthew L. Graves, MD; Michael J. Gardner, MD


J Am Acad Orthop Surg. 2020;28(14):585-595. 

In This Article


Implant contouring is an important aspect of fracture surgery. The ability to contour a given plate in a particular plane depends on the amount of material contained within that plane. The degree of contouring and whether it should be performed before or as a part of definitive fixation depends on the function of the plate. Contouring implants to match patient anatomy is an art and can be practiced on bone models before surgery. Precontoured plates can be convenient and facilitate indirect reduction techniques but have downsides including the ability to introduce deformity if used as a reduction template.