Functional Outcomes of Severe Bicondylar Tibial Plateau Fractures Treated with Dual Incisions and Medial and Lateral Plates

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Abstract

Background: Plate fixation of comminuted bicondylar tibial plateau fractures remains controversial. This retrospective study was performed to evaluate the perioperative results and functional outcomes of medial and lateral plate stabilization, through anterolateral and posteromedial surgical approaches, of comminuted bicondylar tibial plateau fractures.

Methods: Over a seventy-seven-month period, eighty-three AO/OTA type-41-C3 bicondylar tibial plateau fractures were treated with medial and lateral plate fixation through two exposures. Injury radiographs were rank-ordered according to fracture severity. Immediate biplanar postoperative radiographs were evaluated to assess the quality of the reduction. The Musculoskeletal Function Assessment (MFA) questionnaire was used to evaluate functional outcome.

Results: Twenty-three male and eighteen female patients (average age, forty-six years) who completed the MFA questionnaire were included in the study group. The mean duration of follow-up was fifty-nine months. Two patients had a deep wound infection. Complete radiographic information was available for thirty-one patients. Seventeen (55%) of those patients had a satisfactory articular reduction (≤2-mm step or gap), twenty-eight patients (90%) had satisfactory coronal plane alignment (medial proximal tibial angle of 87° ± 5°), twenty-one patients (68%) demonstrated satisfactory sagittal plane alignment (posterior proximal tibial angle of 9° ± 5°), and all thirty-one patients demonstrated satisfactory tibial plateau width (0 to 5 mm). Patient age and polytrauma were associated with a higher (worse) MFA score (p = 0.034 and p = 0.039, respectively). When these variables were accounted for, regression analysis demonstrated that a satisfactory articular reduction was significantly associated with a better MFA score (p = 0.029). Rank-order fracture severity was also predictive of MFA outcome (p < 0.001). No association was identified between rank-order severity and a satisfactory articular reduction (p = 0.21). The patients in this series demonstrated significant residual dysfunction (p < 0.0001), compared with normative data, with the leisure, employment, and movement MFA domains displaying the worst scores.

Conclusions: Medial and lateral plate stabilization of comminuted bicondylar tibial plateau fractures through medial and lateral surgical approaches is a useful treatment method; however, residual dysfunction is common. Accurate articular reduction was possible in about half of our patients and was associated with better outcomes within the confines of the injury severity.

Level of Evidence: Therapeutic Level IV. See Instructions to Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.

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