Open Access Research article

Minimally invasive reconstruction of lateral tibial plateau fractures using the jail technique: a biomechanical study

Andre Weimann1*, Thomas Heinkele1, Mirco Herbort1, Benedikt Schliemann1, Wolf Petersen2 and Michael J Raschke1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Trauma-, Hand- and Reconstructive Surgery, University Hospital Münster, Münster, Germany

2 Department of Traumasurgery, Martin-Luther-Hospital, Berlin, Germany

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BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 2013, 14:120  doi:10.1186/1471-2474-14-120

Published: 4 April 2013



This study described a novel, minimally invasive reconstruction technique of lateral tibial plateau fractures using a three-screw jail technique and compared it to a conventional two-screw osteosynthesis technique. The benefit of an additional screw implanted in the proximal tibia from the anterior at an angle of 90° below the conventional two-screw reconstruction after lateral tibial plateau fracture was evaluated. This new method was called the jail technique.


The two reconstruction techniques were tested using a porcine model (n = 40). Fracture was simulated using a defined osteotomy of the lateral tibial plateau. Load-to-failure and multiple cyclic loading tests were conducted using a material testing machine. Twenty tibias were used for each reconstruction technique, ten of which were loaded in a load-to-failure protocol and ten cyclically loaded (5000 times) between 200 and 1000 N using a ramp protocol. Displacement, stiffness and yield load were determined from the resulting load displacement curve. Failure was macroscopically documented.


In the load-to-failure testing, the jail technique showed a significantly higher mean maximum load (2275.9 N) in comparison to the conventional reconstruction (1796.5 N, p < 0.001). The trend for better outcomes for the novel technique in terms of stiffness and yield load did not reach statistical significance (p > 0.05). In cyclic testing, the jail technique also showed better trends in displacement that were not statistically significant. Failure modes showed a tendency of screws cutting through the bone (cut-out) in the conventional reconstruction. No cut-out but a bending of the lag screws at the site of the additional third screw was observed in the jail technique.


The results of this study indicate that the jail and the conventional technique have seemingly similar biomechanical properties. This suggests that the jail technique may be a feasible alternative to conventional screw osteosynthesis in the minimally invasive reconstruction of lateral tibial plateau fractures. A potential advantage of the jail technique is the prevention of screw cut-outs through the cancellous bone.

Tibial plateau fractures; Jail technique; Osteosynthesis; Displacement; Load; Stiffness; Failure