Objective Metric of Energy Absorbed in Tibial Plateau Fractures Corresponds Well to Clinician Assessment of Fracture Severity

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Abstract

Objectives:

Determine the agreement between subjective assessments of fracture severity and an objective computed tomography (CT)-based metric of fracture energy in tibial plateau fractures.

Methods:

Six fellowship-trained orthopaedic trauma surgeons independently rank-ordered 20 tibial plateau fractures in terms of severity based on anteroposterior and lateral knee radiographs. A CT-based image analysis methodology was used to quantify the fracture energy, and agreement between the surgeons' severity rankings and the fracture energy metric was tested by computing their concordance, a statistical measure that estimates the probability that any 2 cases would be ranked with the same ordering by 2 different raters or methods.

Results:

Concordance between the 6 orthopaedic surgeons ranged from 82% to 93%, and concordance between surgeon severity rankings and the computed fracture energy ranged from 73% to 78%.

Conclusions:

There is a high level of agreement between experienced surgeons in their assessments of tibial plateau fracture severity, and a slightly lower agreement between the surgeon assessments and an objective CT-based metric of fracture energy. Taken together, these results suggest that experienced surgeons share a similar understanding of what makes a tibial plateau fracture more or less severe, and an objective CT-based metric of fracture energy captures much but not all of that information. Further research is ongoing to characterize the relationship between surgeon assessments of severity, fracture energy, and the eventual clinical outcomes for patients with fractures of the tibial plateau.

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