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Tibial Plafond Fractures
Updated: Oct 9 2017

Tibial Plafond Fracture ORIF with Anterolateral Approach and Plate Fixation

Preoperative Patient Care
Operative Techniques

Preoperative Plan


Template fracture

  • template fracture pattern and instrumentation


Execute surgical walkthrough

  • describe steps of the procedure verbally to the attending prior to the start of the case
  • describe potential complications and steps to avoid them

Room Preparation


Surgical instrumentation

  • Synthes Variable Angle Locking Ankle Fracture System
  • Synthes Small Fragment Set
  • 1.2mm kwires
  • osteotomes


Patient positioning

  • patient supine with feet at the end of the bed, small bump under ipsilateral thigh, tourniquet on thigh
  • if external fixator in place need to scrub down frame and pins thoroughly as this is a source of contamination


OR setup and C-arm

  • radiolucent OR table
  • c-arm from contralateral side perpendicular to bed

Superficial Dissection


Incorporate External Fixation into Approach Strategy

  • If necessary leave external fixator fully or partially intact during approach and fracture reduction/fixation to maintain traction and fracture length


Draw out anterolateral incision and any additional incisions.

  • use internervous plane between peroneus tertius and brevis, mark out lateral malleolus and course of peroneus tertius
  • When using multiple approaches used must maintain ~7cm distance between full thickness skin flaps to decrease wound complications


Exsanguinate extremity and inflate tourniquet


Make incision

  • start 2-3cm anterior to anterior border of fibula in line with 4th ray down to ankle joint
  • identify and protect SPN in subcutaneous tissue immediately under skin
  • incise fascia and extensor retinaculum in line with skin incision
  • retract and elevate anterior compartment tendons medially
  • If needed extend distally to talonavicular joint
  • Anteromedial approach
  • mark out medial malleolus and distal tibia crest, incision medial to tibialis anterior tendon sheath
  • make incision centered on distal tibia then curving medial across ankle joint
  • elevate full thickness skin flaps, leave tibial anterior tendon sheath intact
  • elevate anterior compartment tendons and retracted laterally

Deep Dissection


Use sharp dissection down to bone


Perform subperiosteal elevation

  • use a wood handled elevator and knife to elevate the muscles and tendons off of the anterior border of the tibia and fibula
  • need to visualize extent of fracture fragments medially and laterally

Bony Preparation and Intraarticular Reduction


Prepare fracture site

  • identify distal tibia fracture site and book open anterolateral vs. anteromedial fragment
  • clean out with rongeur, curettes or dental pic


Use osteotomes to tamp down impacted central piece

  • a central bone void should remain
  • inspect talus for OCD lesions at the same time
  • perform microfracture technique with kwire as needed


Join fragments together

  • attach medial malleolus to impacted central fragment and lateral malleolus with kwires
  • can use additional medial incision to expose medial fragment and reduce using k-wires
  • join smaller fragments to larger fragments in a systematic fashion with kwires to restore articular surface
  • join articular surface to tibia shaft
  • use pointed reduction clamps to reduce larger fragments



Fix anterior and posterior fragments

  • place 2.7mm lag screw (2.0 mm drill) anterior to posterior to join fragments together
  • place anterolateral vs. medial plate with at least 3 screws above (3.5 cortical) and 3 below (2.7 locking)
  • key is metadiaphyseal screws distally in subchondral bone to support distal tibia articular surface
  • need to be parallel to joint


Check anatomic placement of plate

  • check plate contour and make sure no riding up off the distal tibia


Fix plate to bone

  • place medial malleolus 1/3 tubular plate with 3.5 cortical screws to buttress down medial fragment
  • insert allograft chips and autologous bone graft for distal tibia bone defect

Fibula Fixation (Optional)


Prepare fracture site

  • clean out fracture site using freer to open fracture site
  • use curettes, small rongeur, dental pick, and irrigation to remove hematoma and interposed soft tissue


Perform reduction

  • use lobster clamp and pointed clamps to reduce fracture using hand rotation and contralateral thumb to help guide fragments together


Place lag screw

  • place 2.7mm lag screw (2.0 mm drill) perpendicular to fracture line if possible


Place final fixation

  • determine length of 1/3 tubular plate needed (~6-8holes) and check placement on fluoro
  • place plate directly lateral for neutralization and insert 3 screws (3.5 mm) above and below fracture site

Confirm Intraarticular reduction and Hardware Position


Take final fluoro AP/Lat/Mortise of ankle and AP/Lat of tibia/fibula

  • check screw lengths to ensure no penetration into ankle joint or surrounding tendons


Check limb length, rotation, and alignment


Wound Closure


Irrigation & Hemostasis

  • deflate tourniquet
  • irrigate and cauterize peripheral bleeding vessels
  • place medium hemovac drain exiting proximal and lateral



  • fascia and retinaculum closure with 0-vicryl, watch out for SPN laterally
  • subcutaneous with 2-0 vicryl and skin closure with 3-0 nylon



  • soft incision dressings and postmold splint with stirrups for immobilization vs. pin site dressings if external fixator maintained
Postoperative Patient Care
Private Note

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