[Treatment of intra-articular proximal tibial evaluation of two- to seven-year follow-up]

L Pasa, M Kelbl, R Suchomel, V Procházka, J Filipínský
Acta Chirurgiae Orthopaedicae et Traumatologiae Cechoslovaca 2007, 74 (5): 336-41

PURPOSE OF THE STUDY: Intra-articular fractures of the proximal tibia always present a complicated therapeutic problem. In this retrospective study, the results of both conservative and surgical treatment of these fractures are evaluated.

MATERIAL: In the period from 1997 to 1999, 114 patients with proximal tibial fractures were treated in the Traumatological Hospital in Brno-Traumacenter. Of these, 34 (30 %) were treated conservatively and 80 (70 %) by a surgical procedure. A total of 80 patients were included in follow-up (70 %). Of these, 61 had surgery, which involved arthroscopically-assisted intervention in 25 patients, arthrotomy in 27 patients and open reduction with external fixation in nine patients who had an open fracture (eight had type C3 fracture). Minimally invasive fixation with a cancellous screw and washer was used in 25, and a buttress plate in 27 patients. Spongioplasty was carried out in 11 patients.

METHODS: Clinical and questionnaire-based evaluation was undertaken at 5 to 7 years after the injury and following therapy. The outcome was assessed on the basis of two classification systems, i.e., the IKDC (International Knee Documentation Committee) score and the Lansinger score designed particularly for the evaluation of proximal tibial fractures. The outcomes were evaluated in relation to fracture type, conservative or surgical treatment, method of osteosynthesis, and use of arthroscopic control and spongioplasty.

RESULTS: In each of the evaluated patients, radiographs were obtained after injury and then at the completion of therapy. The fractures classified according to the AO system were as follows: type A1 fractures - 9 patients; types B1, B2, B3 - 46 patients; types C1, C2, C3 - 34 patients. The average IKDC and the Lansinger scores achieved at 5- to 7-year follow-up were 70 and 24 points, respectively. This can be regarded as a very good result. Within 5 years of injury, four patients underwent total knee arthroplasty; all of them were over 50 years and had a type C3 fracture. The type B3 and C3 treated by arthrotomy showed similar outcomes on both classification systems (IKDC/Lansinger: 69/67 and 24/24, respectively). The B3 fractures operated on under arthroscopic control had better outcomes (77/69) than those treated by arthrotomy (27/25), because this approach combines advantages of inner fracture fixation with a minimally invasive surgical technique. Better results were also achieved in fractures treated by minimally invasive fixation with cancellous screws.

DISCUSSION: The outcomes of therapy in intra-articular fractures of the proximal tibia related to how serious the fracture was and how well it was reduced and stabilized. Both the approach to fracture reduction and the method of its stabilization (buttress plate, minimally invasive screws, external fixator) are selected according to fracture type and soft tissue state. Spongioplasty is indicated if subchondral bone is affected. Reduction and stabilization performed under arthroscopic control permit more precise reconstruction of the articular surface, but can be used only for certain fractures (type A1 and B1, B2 and B3). For reduction and stabilization of all fracture types, with the exception of AO type 41A-1 fracture, an Y-ray image intensifier system is necessary. The meniscus above the injured bone should be preserved in order to maintain good function of the joint.

CONCLUSIONS: In intra-articular fractures of the proximal tibia, treatment outcomes depend on the type of fracture as well as correct reduction and use of appropriate fixation. When accurate alignment, joint stability and well reduced articular surfaces are achieved, outcomes are very good. At mid-term follow-up, reduction under arthroscopic control gives better results than stabilization performed by arthrotomy.

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