Functional and Clinical Outcomes of Nonsurgically Managed Tibial Plateau Fractures

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This study sought to assess and compare long-term functional and clinical outcomes in patients with tibial plateau fractures that are treated nonsurgically.


Over a period of 8 years, 305 consecutive tibial plateau fractures were treated by three surgeons at a single institution and followed prospectively in an Institutional Review Board–approved study. Overall, 41 patients (13%) were treated nonsurgically and 37 were available for follow-up. Indications for nonsurgical management were minimal fracture displacement or preclusion of surgery because of comorbidities. A series of univariate retrospective analyses were used to identify individual risk factors potentially predictive of Short Musculoskeletal Functional Assessment scores.


Thirty-seven patients were included with a mean follow-up of 21 ± 14.9 months. Overall, 59% of patients (n = 22) attained good to excellent functional outcomes. In patients for whom surgery was precluded because of comorbidities, outcome scores were significantly poorer (38.8 ± 23.0 versus 12.7 ± 14.2; P = 0.001). Surgery precluded by a factor other than minimal fracture displacement predicted poor outcome (P = 0.002).


Carefully selected patients with minimally displaced tibial plateau fractures can expect good to excellent outcomes when treated nonsurgically.

Level of Evidence:

Level III, retrospective comparative study

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