Tibial Plateau Fracture

Tibial Plateau Fracture is a topic covered in the 5-Minute Emergency Consult.

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  • Synonym: Tibial condylar fracture
  • Fracture or depression of the proximal tibial articulating surface
  • Valgus or varus force applied in combination with axial loading onto tibial plateau

Schatzker Classification of Plateau Fractures
  • Type 1:
    • Split fracture of the lateral tibial plateau without depression of the plateau
  • Type 2:
    • Split fracture and depression of lateral tibial plateau
    • Associated with lateral meniscus injury
  • Type 3:
    • Central depression of the lateral plateau
    • Injuries may be unstable
  • Type 4:
    • Split of the medial tibial plateau
    • Can cause damage to other structures:
      • Popliteal vessels
      • Peroneal nerve
      • MCL
      • Lateral meniscus
      • Lateral collateral ligament
      • Cruciate ligaments
      • Tibial spines
      • Compartment syndrome
  • Type 5:
    • Bicondylar tibial plateau fracture
    • Same associated injuries as type 4
  • Type 6:
    • Bicondylar, grossly comminuted fracture of the plateau
    • Diaphyseal–metaphyseal dissociation
    • Same associated injuries as types 4 and 5


  • Mechanism of injury:
    • Types 1 & 2 from a valgus force with axial loading, generally a low-energy injury
      • Associated with contact sports, twisting motions (e.g., skiing) or classically, pedestrians struck by a vehicle bumper
    • Type 3 are low-energy injuries in osteopenic bone
    • Types 4–6 are high-energy injuries usually from motor vehicle/cycle collisions and falls from height causing medial plateau fractures
      • Associated with neurovascular injuries
  • Age associated
    • Type 1: Younger patients with cancellous bone of the plateau resists depression.
    • Types 2 & 3: Depression fractures seen in osteopenic older bones

Pediatric Considerations
Tibial plateau fractures are rare in children because of the dense cancellous bone of the tibial plateau

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