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Tibial plateau fracture

Dr Ian Bickle and Radswiki et al.

Tibial plateau fractures were originally termed a bumper or fender fracture but only 25% of tibial plateau fractures result from impact with automobile bumpers.

The most common mechanism of injury involves axial loading, e.g. fall from a significant height. In younger patients, the most common pattern of fracture is splitting, while older, more osteoporotic patients, depression fractures typically are sustained.

Soft tissue injuries (e.g. to cruciate and collateral ligaments) occur in approximately 10% of patients.

Fractures of the lateral plateau are much more common than the medial plateau. To injure the medial plateau, a large amount of force is required; fractures of the medial plateau are usually seen in conjunction with fractures of the lateral plateau and other bones around the knee joint.

Tibial plateau fractures are complex injuries that require adequate imaging to assess prior to fixation. 

Plain radiography often underestimates the severity of the injury. Lipohemarthrosis should be present. 

CT is very helpful in accurately defining the extent of the bony injury and facilitates orthopedic intervention. The Schatzker classification is used in tibial plateau fractures.

MRI is very helpful in the assessment of soft tissue injury around the joint.

The goal of therapy is to reduce the fracture and begin early mobilization. If the patient is immobilized for a lengthy period (>3 weeks), the joint will not return to full range of movement.

Depression of a tibial plateau that is inadequately corrected results in a varus or valgus deformity and accelerated osteoarthritis.

Unappreciated ligamentous injury causes greater than normal stress on the remaining support structures of the joint, malalignment, and the development of premature osteoarthritis.

Knee pathology

The knee is a complex synovial joint that can be affected by a range of pathologies:

Article information

rID: 15615
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • Tibial plateau fractures
  • Fractures of the tibial plateau

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Cases and figures

  • Coronal CT image ...
    Case 1: Schatzker type I
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  • Case 3: Schatzker type II (3D reformat)
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  • Case 2: Schatzker type II
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  • Case 4: Schatzker type IV
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  • Case 6: Schatzker type V (MRI)
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  • Case 5: Schatzker type V
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  • Case 8: Schatzker type VI
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  • Case 7: Schatzker type VI (3D reformat)
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  • Case 9: lateral tibial plateau fracture
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  • Case 10: medial tibial plateau fracture (3D reformat)
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  • Case 11: Schatzker type II tibial plateau fracture
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  • Case 12: through an amputation stump
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