What is a Tillaux Fracture?

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October 21, 2019
Edward Smith

What is a Tillaux Fracture?

A Tillaux fracture is a serious injury of the ankle that can require a significant amount of rehabilitation to complete the recovery process. The ankle is a delicate joint where multiple bones, including the tibia, fibula, and smaller bones in the foot, come together. If any of these bones are disrupted, it can lead to severe pain and impair the range of motion of the ankle joint. This is what happens in a Tillaux fracture.

In this injury, the end of the tibia (which articulates with the foot) is fractured. When this happens, it is possible that a piece of the bone can damage some of the surrounding structures. This can lead to tearing of the tendons, ligaments, blood vessels, and nerves in the ankle. All of this can complicate the recovery process. For these reasons, it is important for individuals to understand the basics of this ankle fracture.

Mechanism of Injury

This injury occurs when the ankle rotates too far to the side while the foot itself twists toward the center. This is referred to as a combined abduction and external rotation injury of the foot and ankle. Some of the ways this injury might occur include an auto accident, motorcycle accident, bicycle accident, or competitive sports. When the foot is pinned while the rest of the ankle rotates to the side, a Tillaux fracture can occur.

When this movement takes place, the far end of the tibia, referred to as the distal tibial epiphysis, can be ruptured. This bone fracture can avulse the corner of the bone, displacing a fragment of the tibia itself. When this fragment is free to move throughout the ankle, it has the potential to damage surrounding structures. This can complicate the recovery process.

Diagnosis of a Tillaux Fracture

As with most bone fractures, the doctor is first going to conduct a physical examination of the ankle itself. Some of the clues that a fracture might be present include pain, swelling, bruising, and difficulty moving the joint. If these symptoms are present following a traumatic injury, the doctor will probably order some x-ray images.

The physician will want to see x-rays taken from multiple angles. This will be important for ensuring no bone fracture is overlooked. In some cases, the doctor may also want to order a CT scan or an MRI to get a better look at the ligaments, tendons, and surrounding blood vessels to ensure that no associated injury is overlooked.

Treatment of an Ankle Fracture

In almost every case, a part of the tibia has been torn from the rest of the bone. For this reason, this is typically termed a displaced fracture. Depending on the degree of displacement, the doctor may need to repair the fracture surgically. If the displacement is minimal, the doctor may attempt to perform a closed reduction. In this procedure, the patient is given light anesthesia (such as ketamine), and the ankle is maneuvered to put the bone fragment back in the proper location. No surgery is required in this reduction.

If this fails, or if the degree of displacement is too great, then the patient will be taken to the operating room. A trained orthopedic surgeon will place the bone fragment back in the proper location. Plates and screws might be needed to hold the bones in the proper position. After this, the ankle will be placed in a cast while the bones heal.

Often, physical therapy is required to restore full strength to the ankle. In some cases, individuals might be at risk of developing early-onset arthritis. With proper repair, most individuals will make a full recovery following a Tillaux fracture; however, the complete recovery process might take several months.

Personal Injury Lawyers in Sacramento

I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento Personal Injury Lawyer. A Tillaux fracture is a significant injury to the ankle, which may cause serious complications. If an individual you are close to has sustained a serious fracture of the ankle due to the negligence of another person or entity, please contact me today by using (916) 921-6400 and by calling (800) 404-5400 for friendly, free legal advice.

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Citation of Picture: The photo at the beginning was found first on Pixabay and has been shown here with permission under the Creative Commons License.

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