Kantonsspital St.Gallen

Operative strategy in postero-medial fracture-dislocation of the proximal tibia

Primoz Potocnik, Yves P Acklin & Christoph Sommer


In 1981, Moore introduced a new classification for dislocation-type fractures caused by high-energy mechanisms. The most common medial Moore-type fractures are entire condyle fractures with the avulsion of the median eminence (tibial anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) insertion). They are usually associated with a posterolateral depression of the tibial plateau and an injury of the lateral menisco-tibial capsule. This uniform injury of the knee is increasingly observed in the recent years after skiing injuries due to the high-speed carving technique. This uprising technique uses shorter skis with more sidecut allowing much higher curve speeds and increases the forces on the knee joint. The aim of this study was to describe the injury pattern, our developed operative approach for reconstruction and outcome.

A total of 28 patients with 29 postero-medial fracture dislocation of the proximal tibia from 2001 until 2009 were analysed. Clinical and radiological follow-up was performed after 4 years on average (1 year in minimum). Evaluation criteria included the Lysholm score for everyday knee function and the Tegner score evaluating the activity level. All fractures were stabilised post primarily. The surgical main approach was medial. First, the exposure of the entire medial condyle fracture was performed following the fracture line to the articular border. The posterolateral impaction was addressed directly through the main fracture gap from anteromedial to posterolateral. Small plateau fragments were removed, larger fragments reduced and preliminarily fixed with separate K-wire(s). The postero-medial part of the condyle was then prepared for main reduction and application of a buttress T-plate in a postero-medial position, preserving the pes anserinus and medial collateral ligament. In addition, a parapatellar medial mini-arthrotomy through the same main medial approach was performed. Through this mini-arthrotomy, the avulsed anterior eminence with attached distal ACL is retained by a transosseous suture back to the tibia.

We could evaluate 26 patients (93%); two patients were lost to follow-up due to foreign residence. Median age was 51 years (20-77 years). The fractures were treated post primarily at an average of 4 days; in 18 cases a two-staged procedure with initial knee-spanning external fixator was used. All fractures healed without secondary displacement or infection. As many as 25 patients showed none to moderate osteoarthritis after a median of 4 years. One patient showed a severe osteoarthritis after 8 years. All patients judge the clinical result as good to excellent. The Lysholm score reached 95 (75-100) of maximal 100 points and the Tegner activity score 5 (3-7) of maximal 10 points (competitive sports). The patients achieved a median flexion of 135° (100-145°).

In our view, it is crucial to recognise the different components of the injury in the typical postero-medial fracture dislocation of the proximal tibia. The described larger medial approach for this type of medial fracture dislocation allows repairing most of the injured aspects of the tibial head, namely the medial condyle with postero-medial buttressing, the distal insertion of the ACL and the posterolateral impaction of the plateau.
citation Potocnik P, Acklin Y P, Sommer C. Operative strategy in postero-medial fracture-dislocation of the proximal tibia. Injury 2011; 42:1060-5.
type journal paper/review (English)
date of publishing 04-05-2011
journal title Injury (42/10)
ISSN electronic 1879-0267
pages 1060-5
PubMed 21531413
DOI 10.1016/j.injury.2011.03.041