Tibial Plateau Fracture Characteristics: Reliability and Diagnostic Accuracy

J Orthop Trauma. 2016 May;30(5):e144-51. doi: 10.1097/BOT.0000000000000511.


Objectives: The purpose of this study was to assess the interobserver reliability and diagnostic accuracy for 2-dimensional (2D) and 3-dimensional (3D) computed tomography (CT)-based evaluation of tibial plateau fracture characteristics. We hypothesized that recognition of specific tibial plateau fracture characteristics is equally reliable and accurate in 2DCT and 2D- and 3DCT.

Methods: Eighty-one orthopedic trauma surgeons and residents were randomized to either 2DCT or 2D- and 3DCT evaluation of 15 complex tibial plateau fractures using web-based platforms to recognize 4 tibial plateau fracture characteristics: (1) a posteromedial component, (2) a lateral component, (3) a tibial tubercle component, and (4) a tibial spine (central) component. Interobserver reliability was evaluated by Siegel and Castellan's multirater kappa measure and kappa values were interpreted according to the categorical rating by Landis and Koch. Diagnostic accuracy was calculated according to standard formulas.

Results: Interobserver reliability of tibial plateau fracture characteristics ranged from "fair" to "substantial". The addition of 3DCT reconstructions did not improve agreement between observers or diagnostic accuracy, because kappa values and diagnostic accuracy were significantly better for evaluation of tibial plateau fractures using 2DCT alone. Diagnostic accuracy of fracture characteristics ranged from 70% to 89% and was better for more frequently encountered components (ie, the posteromedial and lateral component).

Conclusions: The recognition of tibial plateau fracture characteristics prove accurate and reliable on CT-based evaluation in this study and may be useful besides current classification systems, which do not account for all fracture components, in daily practice to help clinical decision making. Further research is needed to evaluate whether the use of distinct fracture components helps preoperative planning of surgical approach and specific fixation techniques.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Competence
  • Humans
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional / methods*
  • Knee Injuries / diagnostic imaging*
  • Observer Variation
  • Radiographic Image Interpretation, Computer-Assisted / methods*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Tibial Fractures / diagnostic imaging*
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / methods*