Knee > Fractured Shinbone

What is a Fractured Shinbone at the Knee?

The top part of the shinbone, where it becomes part of the knee joint, is known as the tibial plateau- the top of the tibia. The tibia bears more of the body's weight than any other bone. The shinbone can be broken where it joins the knee. There are two types of tibial plateau fractures: articular and non-articular. Both affect knee alignment and stability. Articular fractures also affect movement, while non-articular fractures affect strength.


It takes a severe blow to fracture the tibial plateau. In sports, it can happen in football and soccer head-on collisions. However, the injury is most commonly seen as the result of car accidents or falls from considerable heights. Elderly people are particularly susceptible because of bone density loss and their vulnerability in falling. Tibial plateau fractures account for about one percent of all fractures, but eight percent of fractures among the elderly.

Orthopedic Evaluation  

There usually are three parts to an orthopedic evaluation: medical history, a physical examination, and tests that your physician may order.


Your doctor will likely ask you how you injured your knee, how it has been feeling since the injury, and if your knee has been previously injured. That can help indicate whether there may be other injuries around the area. Physicians also typically ask about other conditions, such as diabetes and allergies, and medications currently being taken. The doctor may also ask about your physical and athletic goals- information that will help him decide what treatment might be best for you in achieving those goals.


A physician usually can diagnose a fractured shinbone (tibia plateau) by feeling around the area, identifying the break and the point where it is most tender. Your physician likely will ask you to extend your knee, possibly after giving you a local anesthetic to eliminate pain, to help determine whether there may be additional injuries in and around your knee.


X-rays, taken from several angles, are the best way to determine the extent of a fractured shinbone and to identify or rule out additional injuries. MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) or CT scan, commonly referred to as a CAT scan, may also be requested to see the details of the fracture and to help identify or rule out additional injuries.


   Imaging techniques

Closed Reduction and Casting
Open Reduction and Internal Fixation
Closed Reduction and External Fixation
Limited open Reduction with Internal/External Fixation
Arthoscopic-assisted Reduction with Internal/External Fixation

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