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Proximal tibial fractures in adults

Karl B Fields, MD
Section Editor
Patrice Eiff, MD
Deputy Editor
Jonathan Grayzel, MD, FAAEM


Closed tibial fractures are common long-bone fractures. Greater than 70,000 hospitalizations, 800,000 office visits and 500,000 hospital days, have been attributed to tibial shaft fractures alone. While the elderly suffer many of these fractures from falls, the presence of significant osteoporosis increases the risk for compound or more complex fractures with higher morbidity [1].

This topic will review issues related to proximal tibial fractures. A general overview of tibial fractures is presented separately. (See "Overview of tibial fractures in adults".)


The tibia is the major weight-bearing bone of the lower leg (picture 1 and picture 2). The proximal portion of the bone, the tibial plateau, forms the lower surface of the knee joint (picture 3). The thicker of the two articular surfaces is the medial tibial condyle, while the lateral tibial condyle is a relatively thinner and weaker portion of the joint. The anatomy of the knee is reviewed in detail separately. (See "Physical examination of the knee", section on 'Anatomy'.)

Separating the medial from the lateral tibial condyle is the intercondylar eminence, an important bony prominence that anchors the attachment of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) (picture 4).

Another key bony landmark is the tibial tuberosity which is on the anterior surface, several centimeters below the joint line and the inferior patellar pole, which serves as the attachment site for the patellar tendon [2].


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Literature review current through: Oct 2015. | This topic last updated: May 12, 2015.
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