Objectives: To determine the effects of intraarticular step-off and lateral meniscectomy on the alignment of the articular axis, contact area, and pressures for lateral tibial plateau fractures. Design: Biomechanical cadaver study. Intervention: Six fresh cadaveric knees were used. A simulated split fracture of the lateral tibial plateau was reproducibly created by osteotomies, and articular step-offs of zero, one, two, four, and six millimeters were achieved by using support shims. The knee was loaded with 500 newtons in 0 degrees and 350 newtons in 30 degrees of flexion. A digital camera determined changes in the alignment of the articular axis, and F-Scan sensors were inserted into the medial and lateral joint compartments to determine the pressures and pressure distributions. Main Outcome Measurement: Each specimen was tested at step-offs of zero, one, two, four, and six millimeters, with the presence or absence of the lateral meniscus. The changes in alignment of the articular axis, the contact area, and the average and maximum contact pressures for each condyle were obtained. Results: Increased articular step-off heights progressively increased valgus angulation and average and maximum contact pressures and progressively decreased contact areas in lateral compartment. At a six-millimeter step-off with 0 degrees of flexion, the valgus angle increased an average of 7.6 degrees, and average contact pressures and maximum contact pressures increased an average of 208 percent and 97 percent, respectively, and contact area decreased an average of 33 percent (p < 0.05). Meniscectomy increased valgus angles by an average of 38 percent and contact pressures by an average of 45 percent and decreased contact areas by 26 percent in the lateral compartment at the same articular step-off heights (p < 0.05). Conclusion: The results of this study show the importance of decreasing articular step-off heights in treating lateral tibial plateau split fractures, particularly if a meniscectomy is performed.
- Articular step-off
- Contact pressure
- Tibial plateau
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
- Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation