Patient reported health related quality of life early outcomes at 12 months after surgically managed tibial plafond fracture

Injury. 2017 Apr;48(4):946-953. doi: 10.1016/j.injury.2016.11.012. Epub 2016 Nov 17.


Introduction: Tibial plafond fractures represent a small but complex subset of fractures of the lower limb. The aim of this study was to describe the health related quality of life, pain and return to work outcomes 12 months following surgically managed tibial plafond fracture.

Methods: The Victorian Orthopaedic Trauma Outcomes Registry (VOTOR) database was used to identify patients with tibial plafond fractures. All patients captured by VOTOR with a tibial plafond fracture between September 2003 and July 2009, were identified consecutively and comprised the initial cohort. The radiographs of all identified patients were classified using the AO/OTA fracture classification. A review of the included patient's medical records was performed. Data were collected on the injury event, management and complications. Outcomes at 12 months were prospectively collected by telephone interview and included return to work, a numerical rating scale for assessment of pain and the Short Form 12 (SF-12).

Results: There were 98 unilateral tibial plafond fractures; 91 fractures were managed operatively, 4 non-operatively and 3 underwent amputation. The 91 operatively managed patients were the focus of this study. A two-stage management approach, involving temporary external fixation, followed by definitive open reduction and internal fixation, was the most common operative treatment. The follow-up rate at 12 months was 70%. 57% had returned to work by 12 months post-injury, the median (IQR) pain score was 2 (0-5) and 27% reported moderate to severe persistent pain. Mean PCS-12 scores were significantly lower than Australian norms (p=0.99), 38.2 for males and 37.5 for females.

Conclusions: The presence of persistent pain, loss of physical health and a low return to work rate highlights the profound impact of tibial plafond fractures on patients' lives. Although this study looked at the early 12 month results, it is expected these outcomes will continue to improve over time. Further studies, with larger patient numbers, must focus on how to improve not only the operative management of these fractures, but also patient's mental and overall physical health in the long term. Improved management techniques and early identification of injury patterns known to perform poorly may help long-term outcomes.

Keywords: Fracture; Outcomes; Pain; Pilon; Plafond; Quality of life; Return to work; Short form 12; Tibia.

Publication types

  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Ankle Fractures / epidemiology
  • Ankle Fractures / physiopathology
  • Ankle Fractures / psychology
  • Ankle Fractures / surgery*
  • Australia / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Fracture Fixation, Internal*
  • Fracture Healing
  • Humans
  • Injury Severity Score
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain / epidemiology
  • Pain / psychology
  • Patient Reported Outcome Measures
  • Postoperative Period
  • Quality of Life*
  • Range of Motion, Articular
  • Recovery of Function
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Return to Work / psychology
  • Return to Work / statistics & numerical data
  • Tibial Fractures / epidemiology
  • Tibial Fractures / physiopathology
  • Tibial Fractures / psychology
  • Tibial Fractures / surgery*
  • Young Adult