Tibial Plateau Fracture Information

The tibial plateau located on the upper extremity of the tibia (shin bone) and is one of the most critical load-bearing areas in the body.  It is composed of two slightly concave condyles (the round prominences of a bone) separated by an intercondylar eminence and the sloping areas both in front and behind it. 

It can be divided into three areas:

  • The medial tibial plateau (the part of the tibial plateau that is nearer to the centre of the body and contains medial condyle). It is larger than the lateral tibial plateau and has a concave surface. Its mechanical axis passes medial to midline and carries 60% of the load.
  • The lateral plateau (the part of the tibial plateau that is farthest away from the centre of the body and contains the lateral condyle). It is smaller than the medial tibial plateau and has a convex surface.
  • The central tibial plateau (located between the medial and lateral pleateaus and contains intercondylar eminence)


A standard tibial plateau fracture involves either cortical interruption, depression or displacement of the articular surfaces of the proximal tibia (the top of the tibia) without significant injury to the knee capsule or ligaments.

However depending on the injury, there may also be significant soft tissue damage as well as damage to the meniscus and ligaments of the knee. 

The peak age for tibial plateau fractures is 30-40 years old in men and 60-70 years old in women. About half of patients who present with a tibial plateau fracture are aged 50 years and older.


Signs and Symptoms of Tibial Plateau Fractures:

  • Tenderness, swelling and bruising of the knee
  • The knee may appear deformed due to displacement and fragmentation of the tibia
  • Blood in the soft tissues and knee joint which can lead to bruising and a dough like feeling in the knee
  • Difficulty moving the knee
  • Inability to bear weight


Common Causes of Tibial Plateau Fractures: 

Tibial plateau fractures can be dived into low energy or high energy fractures: 

  • Low energy fractures occur as a result of a disease affecting the bone. This category of fractures are largely caused by osteoporosis particularly in older females. 
  • High energy fractures are often the result of a motor vehicle accident, a fall from a high height or a sports related injury. High energy fractures make up the majority of tibial plateau fractures found in young patients.


Please see Tibial Plateau Fracture Treatment Options for treatment options.