What is the treatment for a tibial plateau fracture?
Although rare, tibial plateau fractures can result in significant inflammation of the surrounding soft tissues. A significant amount of swelling can jeopardize the blood supply to the lower leg and foot requiring emergency surgery. If a tibial plateau fracture is suspected, immediate medical attention by a medical professional or orthopedic knee specialist is strongly advised.
Conservative therapies may be adequate to heal a confirmed tibial plateau fracture that is small and did not result in bone displacement. Conservative therapies may also be recommended for patients who are less active, have poor health overall, or experience chronic skin infections. The knee will be immobilized to ensure the bones remain aligned during the healing process. Weight-bearing and movement will also be restricted during the early stages of recovery. Sequential x-rays and regular follow-ups are essential for monitoring bone alignment throughout the recovery period. A second injury, or lack of compliance with medical advice, can cause bone displacement and require surgery.
In the event of failed conservative therapy, bone displacement, or the tibial plateau fractured into multiple pieces, surgical intervention is necessary to correct and maintain bone alignment and restore function to the knee joint. A tibial fracture is surgically repaired using rods, plates, and screws. A bone graft, either from the patient (autograft) or a donor (allograft), or a bone substitute may be needed if the bone fragments are lifted. Some tibial plateau fractures may require an external fixator prior to surgical reconstruction. This temporary device stabilizes the knee joint by attaching pins above and below the knee joint that are connected to bars outside of the skin.