Surgical treatment of complex tibial plateau fractures by closed reduction and external fixation. A review of 32 consecutive cases operated

C. Faldini, M. Manca, S. Pagkrati, D. Leonetti, M. Nanni, G. Grandi, M. Romagnoli, M. Himmelmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Complex tibial plateau fractures are a challenge in trauma surgery. In these fractures it is necessary to anatomically reduce the articular part of the fracture and to obtain stable fixation. The aim of this study is to review the results of a surgical technique consisting of fluoroscopic closed reduction and combined percutaneous internal and external fixation. Thirty-two complex tibial plateau fractures in 32 patients were included. Twenty-one fractures were closed, 4 were open Gustilo grade I, 3 were Gustilo grade II and 4 were Gustilo grade III. The mean age was 37.8 years (range 21-64 years). Surgery was performed with patients in transcalcaneal traction and the knee flexed at 30° was used. Through a 1-cm incision centred over the tibial metaphysis of the tibia, a 3.2-mm hole was drilled in the antero-medial tibial aspect. The tibial plateau fracture fragments were elevated using either 1 or 2 curved Kirschner wires under fluoroscopy to control the reduction. Then the fragments were fixed with 2 cannulated AO screws inserted through small incisions into the medial aspect of the tibial plateau. Knee rehabilitation started postoperatively. Weight bearing started after 8-12 weeks depending upon the radiographic appearance. All external fixators were removed in outpatient facilities. All patients were clinically and radiographically evaluated at a mean follow-up of 48 months (range 38-57 months). Clinical results were evaluated according to the Knee Society clinical score. Average healing time was 24 weeks (range 18-29 weeks). In 1 patient a non-union occurred. This patient was treated with open reduction and plate fixation. In 2 patients a varus knee deformity occurred and a surgical correction was performed. There were no surgical complications. Mean knee range of motion was 105° (range 75-125°) and mean Knee Society clinical score was 89. Twenty-five results were scored as excellent, 4 good, 2 fair and 1 poor. Using this technique there is limited soft tissue damage and virtually no periosteum damage to the fracture fragments. However anatomical reconstruction of the joint can be obtained. Furthermore knee rehabilitation can be started immediately after surgery. We think that these factors were responsible for the optimal clinical long-term results.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)188-193
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Orthopaedics and Traumatology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2005


  • Closed reduction
  • External fixation
  • Open fracture
  • Surgical technique
  • Tibial plateau fracture

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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