Management and Complications in Nonoperative Fractures of the Tibial Spine: A systematic review


Effective options exist for acute nonoperative management of anterior tibial spine fractures, yet there exists a paucity of literature describing long-term outcomes for these patients. This systematic review thus aims to consolidate management strategies and complications for patients with nonoperative anterior tibial spine fractures. In accordance with PRISMA guidelines, 5 databases (CINAHL, MEDLINE, EMBASE, Cochrane, and Pubmed) were searched and screened in duplicate. Quality assessment was performed using the Methodological Index for Non-Randomized Studies (MINORS) criteria. Of 485 studies identified in the initial search, a total of 18 studies involving 369 patients were eligible for this review. These were stratified into 173 type I, 124 type II, and 72 type III injuries as described by Meyers and McKeever. All patients were treated with knee immobilization in either full extension or slight flexion, with possible closed reduction and/or aspiration of hemarthrosis. Complications at final follow-up comprised 33.9% of patients with persistent stiffness, 19.4% persistent instability, 11.1% mechanical symptoms, 6.37 delayed anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction, 4.9% delayed operative intervention for other complications, and 1.9% extension impingement. Given the lack of comparative studies in this review, definitive conclusions for nonoperative management are difficult to establish on the basis of the current body of literature alone. A modestly higher rate of arthrofibrosis and persistent laxity are seen in higher-grade injuries, however, only a minority of studies stratified complications by Meyers and McKeever classification in this review. A better understanding of variables in treatment decision making require further prospective study focused on the collection of functional and patient-reported outcome measures, whereas also further delineating complications by injury severity.

Lead Researchers

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  1. Sasha Carsen

    Scientist, CHEO Research Institute

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