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Upper Tibia (Shinbone) Fractures Diagnosis

Orthopedic Surgery

How is an upper tibia fracture diagnosed?

Medical History and Physical Examination

Your provider will ask for details about how the injury happened. He or she will also talk to you about your symptoms and any other medical problems you may have, such as diabetes.

Your provider will examine the soft tissue surrounding the knee joint. He or she will check for bruising, swelling, and open wounds, and will assess the nerve and blood supply to your injured leg and foot.

Tests

X-rays. The most common way to evaluate a fracture is with x-rays, which provide clear images of bone. X-rays can show whether a bone is intact or broken. They can also show the type of fracture and where it is located within the tibia.

Computed tomography (CT) scan. A CT scan shows more detail about your fracture. It can provide your provider with valuable information about the severity of the fracture and help your provider decide if and how to fix the break.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan. An MRI scan provides clear images of soft tissues, such as tendons and ligaments. Although it is not a routine test for tibia fractures, your provider may order an MRI scan to help determine whether there are additional injuries to the soft tissues surrounding your knee. In addition, if you have all the signs of a tibial plateau fracture, but x-rays are negative, your provider may order an MRI scan. When bone is injured there is often reaction in the bone marrow which can be detected on MRI and means that a fracture has occurred.

Other tests. Your provider may order other tests that do not involve the broken leg to make sure no other body parts are injured (head, chest, belly, pelvis, spine, arms, and other leg). Sometimes, other studies are done to check the blood supply to your leg.