Management and incidence of tibial tubercle fractures in bicondylar fractures of the tibial plateau

M D Maroto, J A Scolaro, M B Henley, R P Dunbar
Bone & Joint Journal 2013, 95-B (12): 1697-702
Bicondylar tibial plateau fractures result from high-energy injuries. Fractures of the tibial plateau can involve the tibial tubercle, which represents a disruption to the extensor mechanism and logically must be stabilised. The purpose of this study was to identify the incidence of an independent tibial tubercle fracture in bicondylar tibial plateau fractures, and to report management strategies and potential complications. We retrospectively reviewed a prospectively collected orthopaedic trauma database for the period January 2003 to December 2008, and identified 392 bicondylar fractures of the tibial plateau, in which 85 tibial tubercle fractures (21.6%) were identified in 84 patients. There were 60 men and 24 women in our study group, with a mean age of 45.4 years (18 to 71). In 84 fractures open reduction and internal fixation was undertaken, either with screws alone (23 patients) or with a plate and screws (61 patients). The remaining patient was treated non-operatively. In all, 52 fractures were available for clinical and radiological assessment at a mean follow-up of 58.5 weeks (24 to 94). All fractures of the tibial tubercle united, but 24 of 54 fractures (46%) required a secondary procedure for their tibial plateau fracture. Four patients reported pain arising from prominent tubercle plates and screws, which in one patient required removal. Tibial tubercle fractures occurred in over one-fifth of the bicondylar tibial plateau fractures in our series. Fixation is necessary and can be reliably performed with screws alone or with a screw and plate, which restores the extensor mechanism and facilitates early knee flexion.

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