What are pilon fractures?

16 September 2016
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16 September 2016, Comments: 0

Pilon fractures takes place at the inferior end point of the tibia and involves the weight bearing surface of the ankle joint. The fibula can also be damaged. These injuries have been present for many years and remain as one of the challenging issues faced by orthopedic surgeons.

Indications of pilon fractures

The pilon fractures can be debilitating injuries with the following symptoms:

  • Pain
  • Inability to bear weight on the affected leg
  • Evident deformity of the ankle joint
  • Swelling occurs with bruising

Possible causes

Pilon fractures

Inability to bear weight on the affected leg

The ankle joint is comprised of 3 bones. The tibia is the major weight-bearing bone in the lower leg. The fibula is the slender exterior bone of the outer leg. The ankle bone is called the talus. It is important to note that the 3 bones work hand in hand to provide movement and stability to the ankle joint.

The pilon fractures develop once the talus is steered into the leg with extensive power that the leg bones are damaged at the ankle. These injuries are usually caused by vehicular accidents and falls.

How is the injury diagnosed?

The history of the individual is checked and a physical assessment of the leg and ankle is carried out. The result of the assessment can be used by the doctor to determine the suitable way to manage the fracture. The doctor will also check for other injuries that might be present as well.

Additionally, the surgeon will request for an X-ray of the affected leg and ankle to check how severely the tibia and fibula are damaged. Remember that the bones might be broken in several areas. The surgeon might also request for a CT scan of the ankle to view all the broken areas.


Some cases of pilon fractures do not necessitate surgery. These are usually low-impact injuries to the tibia and fibula at the ankle joint. The bones are still damaged but the injuries are less severe and treated using a leg cast.

It is important to note that most cases of pilon fractures involve several breaks. There might be a significant separation amidst the damaged fragments and instability in the tibia and fibula at the ankle. Surgery is required to set the fractured bones properly.

The objective of treatment is to restore the alignment and stability as well as promote healing of the tibia and fibula at the ankle. Once the fractures are healing, the objective of the doctor is to restore movement and strength of the ankle joint.

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