Knee Stiffness After Tibial Plateau Fractures: Predictors and Outcomes (OTA-41)

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What patient characteristics and injury factors predict decreased knee range of motion (ROM) after operative management of tibial plateau fractures?


Prospective cohort study.


Academic medical center.


Over 11 years, tibial plateau fractures at a single academic institution were prospectively followed. A total of 266 patients were included in this study.


Surgical repair of tibial plateau fractures and secondary interventions due to arthrofibrosis.

Main outcome measure:

Clinical outcomes were evaluated using the Short Musculoskeletal Function Assessment and ROM at 3-month, 6-month, and long-term follow-up. Secondary outcomes were considered as the need for a subsequent procedure due to arthrofibrosis.


At 3-month follow-up, the mean ROM was 113 degrees. By long-term follow-up (mean = 17 months), the mean ROM improved to 125 degrees. Independent predictors of decreased knee ROM were the following: at 3-month follow-up, open fractures (P = 0.047), application of a knee-spanning external fixator (P = 0.026), orthopaedic polytrauma (P = 0.003), and tibial spine involvement (P = 0.043); and at long-term follow-up, nonwhite ethnicity (P = 0.003), increasing age (P = 0.003), and a deep infection (P = 0.002). Ten patients (3.7%) required a secondary procedure for arthrofibrosis. There was a significant improvement in the knee ROM (P < 0.001) and functional outcomes (P = 0.004) following the intervention.


At long-term follow-up, independent predictors of decreased knee ROM were nonwhite ethnicity, increasing age, and sustaining a postoperative complication of a deep infection. Secondary interventions were reliable treatments for arthrofibrosis.

Level of Evidence:

Prognostic Level III. See Instructions for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.

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