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      Treatment strategy for tibial plateau fractures: an update


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          • Tibial plateau fractures are complex injuries produced by high- or low-energy trauma. They principally affect young adults or the ‘third age’ population.

          • These fractures usually have associated soft-tissue lesions that will affect their treatment. Sequential (staged) treatment (external fixation followed by definitive osteosynthesis) is recommended in more complex fracture patterns. But one should remember that any type of tibial plateau fracture can present with soft-tissue complications.

          • Typically the Schatzker or AO/OTA classification is used, but the concept of the proximal tibia as a three-column structure and the detailed study of the posteromedial and posterolateral fragment morphology has changed its treatment strategy.

          • Limb alignment and articular surface restoration, allowing early knee motion, are the main goals of surgical treatment. Partially articular factures can be treated by minimally-invasive methods and arthroscopy is useful to assist and control the fracture reduction and to treat intra-articular soft-tissue injuries.

          • Open reduction and internal fixation (ORIF) is the gold standard treatment for these fractures. Complex articular fractures can be treated by ring external fixators and minimally-invasive osteosynthesis (EFMO) or by ORIF. EFMO can be related to suboptimal articular reduction; however, outcome analysis shows results that are equal to, or even superior to, ORIF. The ORIF strategy should also include the optimal reduction of the articular surface.

          • Anterolateral and anteromedial surgical approaches do not permit adequate reduction and fixation of posterolateral and posteromedial fragments. To achieve this, it is necessary to reduce and fix them through specific posterolateral or posteromedial approaches that allow optimal reduction and plate/screw placement.

          • Some authors have also suggested that primary total knee arthroplasty could be an option in specific patients and with specific fracture patterns.

          Cite this article: Prat-Fabregat S, Camacho-Carrasco P. Treatment strategy for tibial plateau fractures: an update. EFORT Open Rev 2016;1:225-232. DOI: 10.1302/2058-5241.1.000031.

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          Most cited references49

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          Operative treatment of 109 tibial plateau fractures: five- to 27-year follow-up results.

          To analyze the long-term (5-27 years) functional and radiologic results of surgically treated fractures of the tibial plateau. Retrospective study. University hospital. Two hundred two consecutive tibial plateau fractures were included in this study. All fractures were classified according to both the AO and the Schatzker classification. There were 112 men and 90 women. The mean age at injury was 46 years (16 to 88). One hundred sixty-three patients had isolated fractures and 39 had multiple fractures. A 1 year follow-up was done in all 202 patients. One hundred nine of these patients also had an additional long-term follow-up visit. Functional results of these 109 patients were graded with the Neer- and HSS-knee scores. Radiologic results were graded with the Ahlbäck score. Statistical analysis was performed by means of the SPSS data analysis program. An uneventful union was present at the 1 year follow-up in 95% of the patients, along with a mean knee ROM of 130 degrees (range, 10-145 degrees). One hundred nine patients had a long-term follow-up visit after a mean period of 14 years (range, 5-27 years). The mean ROM at this time was 135 degrees (range, 0-145 degrees). Functional results showed a mean Neer score of 88.6 points (range, 56-100 points) and a mean HSS score of 84.8 points (range, 19-100 points). Monocondylar fractures showed statistically significant better functional results compared to bicondylar fractures. In 31% of the patients, secondary osteoarthritis had developed but was well tolerated in most (64% of the patients). Patients with a malalignment of more then 5 degrees developed a moderate to severe grade of osteoarthritis statistically significant more often (27% of the patients) compared to patients with an anatomic knee axis (9.2%; MWU, P = 0.02). Age did not appear to have any influence on the results. Long-term results after open reduction and internal fixation for tibial plateau fractures are excellent, independent of the patient's age.
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            A new posterolateral approach without fibula osteotomy for the treatment of tibial plateau fractures.

            The selection of a surgical approach for the treatment of tibia plateau fractures is an important decision. Approximately 7% of all tibia plateau fractures affect the posterolateral corner. Displaced posterolateral tibia plateau fractures require anatomic articular reduction and buttress plate fixation on the posterior aspect. These aims are difficult to reach through a lateral or anterolateral approach. The standard posterolateral approach with fibula osteotomy and release of the posterolateral corner is a traumatic procedure, which includes the risk of fragment denudation. Isolated posterior approaches do not allow sufficient visual control of fracture reduction, especially if the fracture is complex. Therefore, the aim of this work was to present a surgical approach for posterolateral tibial plateau fractures that both protects the soft tissue and allows for good visual control of fracture reduction. The approach involves a lateral arthrotomy for visualizing the joint surface and a posterolateral approach for the fracture reduction and plate fixation, which are both achieved through one posterolateral skin incision. Using this approach, we achieved reduction of the articular surface and stable fixation in six of seven patients at the final follow-up visit. No complications and no loss of reduction were observed. Additionally, the new posterolateral approach permits direct visual exposure and facilitates the application of a buttress plate. Our approach does not require fibular osteotomy, and fragments of the posterolateral corner do not have to be detached from the soft tissue network.
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              Staged management of high-energy proximal tibia fractures (OTA types 41): the results of a prospective, standardized protocol.

              This study evaluated the use of a staged protocol involving temporary spanning external fixation and delayed formal definitive fixation in the management of high-energy proximal tibia fractures (OTA types 41) with regard to soft-tissue management, development of complications, and functional outcomes. Two level-one trauma centers and a tertiary care orthopaedic center. Fifty-three patients with 57 high-energy tibial plateau fractures. The authors instituted a protocol of immediate placement of knee spanning external fixation with management of soft-tissue injuries for all high-energy proximal tibia fractures. Between August 1999 and May 2002, 62 consecutive patients with 67 high-energy proximal tibia fractures (OTA types 41A, B, C) underwent temporary knee spanning external fixation on the day of admission. Nine patients with 10 fractures who transferred care after initial stabilization or sustained an extraarticular fracture were excluded. The remaining 53 patients with 57 fractures underwent repair of articular fractures and meta-diaphyseal fracture repair with plates and screw constructs or conversion to a ring fixator. These patients had a mean age of 47 years (standard deviation (SD), 14). Of these 53 patients, 42 (79%) were men and 11 (21%) were women. Characteristics of the 57 fractures were: 42 Schatzker VI (74%), 12 Schatzker V (21%), 2 Schatzker IV (4%), and 1 Schatzker II (2%). There were 41 closed fractures and 16 open fractures. (One patient had bilateral fractures with 1 extremity open and 1 closed). Orthopaedic evaluation at latest follow-up included a clinical and radiographic examination and functional outcome measurement with the Western Ontario McMaster functional knee score (WOMAC). Eight patients with 8 fractures were lost to follow-up. This left 45 patients with 49 fractures with a mean follow-up of 15.7 (SD, 5.7; range, 8-40) months. Complications included 3 (5%) deep wound infections, 2 (4%) nonunions, and 2 patients (4%) with significant knee stiffness (<90 degrees). Nine patients (16%) underwent additional surgery after definitive skeletal stabilization related to their injury. Range of knee motion at final follow-up was 1 degrees (SD, 4) to 106 degrees (SD, 15). The mean WOMAC was 91 (SD, 55). Poor results did not correlate with demographic or injury characteristics. We had a relatively low rate of wound infection in these complex injuries (5% overall). There was only 1 wound problem in our subset of patients with closed fractures and 2 infections in those with open fractures. One downside of this technique may be residual knee stiffness. The benefits of temporizing spanning external fixation include osseous stabilization, access to soft tissues, and prevention of further articular damage. Our relatively low rates of complications in patients who sustain high-energy proximal tibia fractures and the access this technique affords in open fractures and those with compartment syndrome lead us to recommend this technique in all high-energy intra-articular and extra-articular fractures of the proximal tibia. This study supports the practice of delayed internal fixation until the soft-tissue envelope allows for definitive fixation.

                Author and article information

                EFORT Open Rev
                EFORT Open Rev
                EFORT Open Reviews
                British Editorial Society of Bone and Joint Surgery
                May 2016
                13 March 2017
                : 1
                : 5
                : 225-232
                [1-2058-5241.1.000031]Hospital Clinic of Barcelona, Spain
                Author notes
                [*]Salvi Prat Fabregat, Hospital Clinic of Barcelona, Villarroel, 170, 08036 Barcelona, Spain. Email: sprat@ 123456clinic.ub.es
                © 2016 The author(s)

                This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 License ( http://www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/) which permits non-commercial use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed.

                Instructional Lecture: Knee
                Tibial Plateau Fractures
                Three-Column Concept
                Posteromedial Knee Approach
                Posterolateral Knee Approach
                Staged Sequential Surgical Treatment

                tibial plateau fractures,three-column concept,posteromedial knee approach,posterolateral knee approach,staged sequential surgical treatment


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