The Segond Fracture Is an Avulsion of the Anterolateral Complex

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Abstract

Background:

The Segond fracture was classically described as an avulsion fracture of the anterolateral capsule of the knee. Recently, some authors have attributed its pathogenesis to the “anterolateral ligament” (ALL). Biomechanical studies that have attempted to reproduce this fracture in vitro have reported conflicting findings.

Purpose:

To determine the anatomic characteristics of the Segond fracture on plain radiographs and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), to compare this location with the location of the ALL described in prior radiographic and anatomic publications, and to determine the fracture’s attachments to the soft tissue anterolateral structures of the knee.

Study Design:

Case series; Level of evidence, 4.

Methods:

A total of 36 anterior cruciate ligament–injured patients with Segond fractures (33 male, 3 female; mean age, 23.2 ± 8.4 years) were enrolled. MRI scans were reviewed to determine the anatomic characteristics of the Segond fracture, including the following: proximal-distal (PD) length, anterior-posterior (AP) width, medial-lateral (ML) width, PD distance to the lateral tibial plateau, AP distance to the Gerdy tubercle (GT), and AP distance from the GT to the posterior aspect of the fibular head. The attachment of the anterolateral structures to the Segond fragment was then categorized as the iliotibial band (ITB) or anterolateral capsule. Interrater reliability of the measurements was determined by calculating the Spearman rank correlation coefficient. MEDLINE, Web of Science, and the Cochrane Library were searched from inception to May 2016 for the following keywords: (1) “Segond fracture,” (2) “anterolateral ligament,” (3) “knee avulsion,” (4) “lateral tibia avulsion,” and (5) “tibial plateau avulsion.” All studies describing the anatomic location of the Segond fracture and the ALL were included in the systematic review.

Results:

On plain radiographs, the mean distance of the midpoint of the fracture to the lateral tibial plateau was 4.6 ± 2.2 mm. The avulsed fracture had a mean PD length of 9.2 ± 2.5 mm and a mean ML width of 2.4 ± 1.4 mm. On MRI, the mean distance of the proximal fracture to the tibial plateau was 3.4 ± 1.6 mm. The mean PD length was 8.7 ± 2.2 mm, while the mean AP width was 11.1 ± 2.2 mm. The mean distance between the GT and the center of the fracture was 26.9 ± 3.3 mm, while the mean distance between the GT and the posterior fibular head was 53.9 ± 4.4 mm. The mean distance of the midpoint of the fracture to the tibial plateau was 7.8 ± 2.7 mm, while the center of the fracture was 49.9% of the distance between the GT and the posterior aspect of the fibular head. Analysis of soft tissue structures attached to the fragment revealed that the ITB attached in 34 of 36 patients and the capsule attached in 34 of 36 patients. One patient had only the capsule attached, another had only the ITB attached, and the last showed neither clearly attached. A literature review of 20 included studies revealed no difference between the previously described Segond fracture location and the tibial insertion of the ALL.

Conclusion:

The results of this study confirmed that while the Segond fracture occurs at the location of the tibial insertion of the ALL, as reported in the literature, MRI was unable to identify any distinct ligamentous attachment. MRI analysis revealed that soft tissue attachments to the Segond fracture were the posterior fibers of the ITB and the lateral capsule in 94% of patients.

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