Duke Orthopaedics
Wheeless' Textbook of Orthopaedics

Triplane Fracture

- Discussion:
    - name derives from the fact that the fracture exists in the frontal, lateral, and transverse planes;
    - frx tends to occur in older children and young adolescents during an 18 month window, prior to physeal closure;
          - lateral portion of epiphysis is the last to close leaving it vulnerable to injury;
    - epiphyseal arrest and angular deformity are uncommon;
    - there are 3 types of frxs: two-part, three-part frx, and four part;
          - note that this fracture does not fit well into the Salter-Harris classification and is considered an atypical fractures;
    - mechanism:
          - occurs due to external rotation forces;
          - this injury most commonly occurs just before epiphyseal closure & mechanism of injury is forced external rotation.
          - anterior part of frx begins intra-articularly in saggital plane;
          - when frx reaches epiphyseal plate, it courses laterally in horizontal plane, and posterior portion changes direction upward in saggital plane;
    - two part frx: (most common)
          - type of SH type IV frx;
          - occurs when the medial portion of of the distal tibial epiphysis is closed;
          - lateral view: shows Salter type IV frx;
          - posterior plafond fragment extends across epiphyseal plate to involve metaphysis of the tibia;
          - may be comminuted w/ separation of posterior half from lateral three fourths;
          - reference:
                    - The medial triplane fracture: report of an unusual injury.

    - three part frx:
           - combination of SH types II & III frx;
           - occurs when only the middle portion of the distal tibial epiphysis is closed;
           - appears as SH type III frx on AP view & type II on lateral;
           - frx of anterolateral portion of epiphysis of distal tibia (similar to Tillaux frx);
           - frx of large posterior fragment comprised of posterior & medial portions of tibial epiphysis plus a large metaphyseal fragment of variable size;
           - medial one fourth of plafond and medial malleolus are left intact;
           - fibula may also be fractured;

- Radiology:

    - three part frx appears as SH type III frx on AP view & type II on lateral;
    - look for associated spiral frx of fibula (frx occurs in 50% of patients);
    - CT scan:
           - there is usually more deformity of articular surface than would be anticipated from radiographs;
           - tomograms may be useful to determine extent of injury & displacement;
           - references:
                 - Pediatric Triplane Ankle Fractures: Impact of Radiographs and Computed Tomography on Fracture Classification and Treatment Planning

- Non Operative Treatment:
    - most indicated for extra-articular fractures;
    - most two part triplane frx, can be treated by closed reduction under GEA;
    - closed reduction is successful when frxs is displaced < 2 mm & when joint surface is congruous;
    - closed reduction is achieved by internal rotation of foot & long leg cast for 4 weeks followed by short leg casting for 2-3 weeks;
    - these frxs are often assoc w/ significant soft-tissue swelling, which makes maintenance of reduction w/ cast somewhat difficult;
         - it is not unusual for reduction obtained to slip once swelling has subsided;

- Indications for Operative Treatment:

    - any significant displacement ( > 3 mm) requires surgical fixation;
    - most often, 3 part frx will require ORIF;

- Surgical Technique:
    - because of complex frx pattern, adequate reduction may be difficult;
    - wide dissection may be necessary to achieve reduction;
    - surgical technique depends on whether frx is two part or three part frx
    - screws used to provide fixation should not cross growth plate, unless patient is nearing the end of growth.
    - technique for three part frx:
          - open reduction of both SH type II & type III components is necessary & requires adequate exposure;
          - implants:
                 - stabilization w/ two screws, placed percutaneously, obliquely through anterolateral epiphyseal fragment, & an AP screw to stabilize
                            posterior metaphyseal fragment;
          - incision: anterolateral incision;
          - anterolateral fragment is identified and displaced to allow for visualization of posteromedial fragment;
          - reduction of posteromedial fragment is achieved under direct vision thru internal rotation and dorsiflexion of foot;
          - posteromedial fragment is fixed w/ K wire or cancellous screws in an AP direction from anterior aspect of distal tibia into posterior fragment;
          - associated fibular frx is subsequently reduced and fixed;
          - at this point, the frx has been essential converted to a Tillaux frx;
          - anterolateral fragment is reduced and fixed w/ K wires or cancellous screw;
          - other surgeons advocate fixing the anterolateral fragment first (through an anterolateral approach), then fixing the posteromedial
                 fragment (w/ reduction achieved using dorsiflexion and internal rotation of the foot);
          - controversies: ankle arthroscopy to evaluate for articular incongruity;
                 - reference:
                         - Arthroscopically assisted percutaneous fixation of triplane fracture of the distal tibia.

- Complications:
    - growth deformities are uncommon because frx occurs at end period of skeletal maturity

Triplane fracture of the distal tibial epiphysis. Long-term follow-up.

Distal Tibial Triplane Fractures: Long-Term Follow-up

Triplane fractures of the distal tibial epiphysis.

Tibial fractures involving the ankle in children. The so-called triplane epiphyseal fracture.

Triplane fracture of the distal tibial epiphysis. Long-term follow-up.

Triplane fracture of the distal tibia.

Intramalleolar triplane fractures of the distal tibial epiphysis

Triplane fracture of the distal tibial epiphysis. Long-term follow-up.

Tibial fractures involving the ankle in children. The so-called triplane epiphyseal fracture.

Original Text by Clifford R. Wheeless, III, MD.

Last updated by Data Trace Staff on Saturday, August 22, 2015 8:52 am

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