3D modelling of tibial plateau fractures: Variability in fracture location and characteristics across Schatzker fracture types

Injury. 2021 Aug;52(8):2415-2424. doi: 10.1016/j.injury.2021.01.019. Epub 2021 Jan 14.


Introduction: Numerous classifications have been developed to assess tibial plateau fractures (TPF). Of these, the Schatzker system is the most widely reported in the literature yet this system is limited in its characterisation of morphological fracture features underlying the fracture location. The purpose of this study was to compare 3D morphological features of TPFs across different Schatzker types.

Methods: This study retrospectively analysed preoperative TPF imaging data to reconstruct 3D models of the fractures. Ninety-one fractures (29 female, 62 male) were analysed and classified using Schatzker. Fracture location across Schatzker types was compared based on division of the articular surface into six 'zones'. Additionally, morphological characteristics of the fractures were compared based on fracture type, including; the number, volume and shape of the fragments.

Results: Schatzker II, IV and VI fractures were most common, making up 41%, 16% and 20%, respectively. Type II fractures commonly involved both the lateral and central aspect of the tibial plateau, similarly, type IV fractures incorporated the lateral condyle in most cases. Considering the morphological metrics, statistically significant differences were observed between Schatzker types for the number of; total, articular, cortical and volumetrically significant (all P < 0.001) fragments along with the volume of both primary (P < 0.001) and secondary (P = 0.02) fragments.

Discussion: Assessment of underlying fracture characteristics in addition to fracture location can serve to provide greater detail relating to fracture morphology, which has the potential to assist with both surgical decision making and assessment of postoperative outcomes. Incorporating this information as part of a hierarchical or multifactorial framework for classifying fractures may help distinguish subtle differences between fracture types that are classifiable using the most current systems.

Keywords: 3D modelling; CT reconstruction; Classification; Tibial plateau fracture.

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Fracture Fixation, Internal
  • Humans
  • Joints
  • Male
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Tibia
  • Tibial Fractures* / diagnostic imaging
  • Tibial Fractures* / surgery
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed*