High-energy pilon fractures management: State of the art

EFORT Open Rev. 2017 Mar 13;1(10):354-361. doi: 10.1302/2058-5241.1.000016. eCollection 2016 Oct.


High-energy pilon fractures are challenging injuries. Multiple options are described for the definitive surgical management of these fractures, but there is no level I evidence for optimal management. The current management and recommendations for treatment will be reviewed in this article.Anatomical reduction of the fracture, restoration of joint congruence and reconstruction of the posterior column with a correct limb axis minimising the soft-tissue insult are the key points to a good outcome when treating pilon fractures.Even when these goals are achieved, there is no guarantee that results will be acceptable in the mid-term due to the frequent progression to post-traumatic arthritis.In high-energy fractures with soft-tissue compromise, a staged treatment is generally accepted as the best way to take care of these devastating fractures and is considered a local 'damage control' strategy.The axial cuts from the CT scan images are essential in order to define the location of the main fracture line, the fracture pattern (sagittal or coronal) and the number of fragments. All of this information is crucial for pre-operative planning, incision placement and articular surface reduction.No single method of fixation is ideal for all pilon fractures, or suitable for all patients. Definitive decision making is mostly dependent on the fracture pattern, condition of the soft-tissues, the patient's profile and surgical expertise. Cite this article: Tomás-Hernández J. High-energy pilon fractures management: state of the art. EFORT Open Rev 2016;1:354-361. DOI: 10.1302/2058-5241.1.000016.

Keywords: ORIF; distal tibia; high-energy; open reduction and internal fixation; pilon fracture; staged treatment; tibial plafond.

Publication types

  • Review