Tibial Tubercle (Tuberosity) Fracture Clinical Presentation

Updated: Sep 12, 2022
  • Author: Kelvin Lau, BM, BCh, MA, MRCS, DPhil, FRCS(CTh); Chief Editor: Thomas M DeBerardino, MD  more...
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The patient may have a history of Osgood-Schlatter disease in the affected knee, the contralateral knee, or both. A tibial tubercle (tuberosity) fracture typically is sustained during athletic activity and results in an acute onset of pain and swelling and in difficulty extending the knee.


Physical Examination

The injury is almost invariably closed, with swelling and tenderness over the affected tibial tuberosity. Tibial tuberosity fractures are due to avulsion and not to direct impact; therefore, injury to the overlying tissue is rare.

In mild (type I) injuries, the patient may be able to extend the knee against gravity, but he or she may not be able to extend it against resistance. In severe (type II or III) injuries, the patient may be unable to actively extend the knee. Type III (intra-articular) injuries are associated with hemarthrosis, and this manifests as a painful knee effusion following injury.

A high-riding patella is suggestive of tibial tuberosity fracture.