High-energy tibial plateau fractures

J Am Acad Orthop Surg. 2006 Jan;14(1):20-31. doi: 10.5435/00124635-200601000-00005.


The severity of a tibial plateau fracture and the complexity of its treatment depend on the energy imparted to the limb. Low-energy injuries typically cause unilateral depression-type fractures, whereas high-energy injuries can lead to comminuted fractures with significant osseous, soft-tissue, and neurovascular injury. Evaluation includes appropriate radiographs and careful clinical assessment of the soft-tissue envelope. Treatment is directed at safeguarding tissue vascularity and emphasizes restoration of joint congruity and the mechanical axis of the limb. Temporary joint-spanning external fixation facilitates soft-tissue recovery, whereas minimally invasive techniques and anatomically contoured plates can limit damage to the soft tissues and provide stable fixation. Alternatively, the use of limited internal fixation and definitive external fixation can minimize soft-tissue disruption, avoid complications, and allow fracture union. Complications, including infection, loss of fixation, and malalignment, are best avoided by following these biologically respectful treatment principles.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Tibia / anatomy & histology*
  • Tibial Fractures / diagnosis
  • Tibial Fractures / surgery*