Tibial tubercle fractures are sports injuries in male adolescents with a considerable risk of complications and reoperations: a systematic review

Georgios Kalifis*, Theodorakys Marin Fermin, Romain Seil, Sally Hobson, Emmanuel Papakostas, Michael Hantes

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Purpose: There is growing interest in tibial tubercle fractures in pediatric and adolescent population within the last decade. However, there is limited evidence in the existing literature. Therefore, the purpose of this systematic review was to analyze and provide up-to-date data that may prove valuable in decision making and management of these injuries in the general as well as the athletic population. Methods: A systematic review of the literature in PubMed, Cochrane library and Virtual Health Library was conducted using the "Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analysis" (PRISMA) guidelines. Articles published in English or Spanish, during the past 20 years, reporting outcomes of tibial tubercle fracture management in patients younger than 18 years old, with a mean follow-up of at least 6 months reporting outcomes, type of management and classification were included. Results: A total of 919 patients with 956 fractures in 25 retrospective cohort studies were included. The mean age was 14.4 ± 0.6 years while 766 [83%] were males and 740 [81%] of the injuries were sports-related. Associated injuries were reported in 91[10%] cases, most common being patellar tendon avulsion. Surgical management was chosen for 845[88%] of the cases, the vast majority being open reduction internal fixation (ORIF) with screws. Union was achieved in 954 [99.8%] cases. Complications and re-operations rate stood at 172[18%] and 161 [19% of the operations], respectively. Return to play (RTP) was reported in 11 [44%] of the studies standing at an average of 98.9% ± 3.6. Conclusion: Essentially, this is an adolescent sports knee injury that needs careful planning before decision making because it may affect both RTP and joint preservation. Although union was achieved in almost all patients, there is a high risk of associated injuries, complications and reoperations. The surgeon should be confident to perform fracture fixation as well as addressing associated knee soft tissue injuries to achieve optimal outcomes. Level of evidence: Level IV.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2624-2634
Number of pages11
JournalKnee Surgery, Sports Traumatology, Arthroscopy
Issue number7
Early online date27 Jan 2023
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • Adolescent
  • Knee
  • Pediatric
  • Sports
  • Tibial tubercle
  • Tibial tuberosity


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