International Orthopaedics

, Volume 42, Issue 5, pp 1165–1174 | Cite as

Risk of vascular injury when screw drilling for tibial tuberosity transfer

  • Jacques HernigouEmail author
  • Esfandiar Chahidi
  • Mahine Kashi
  • Eric Moest
  • Bassel Dakhil
  • Georges Hayek
  • Antoine Callewier
  • Frederic Schuind
  • Olivier Bath
Original Paper



During tibial tubercle transfer, popliteal vessels are at risk from drills and screws. The risk is around 0.11%, as described in the literature. We reviewed knee injected CT scan for analysis of the location of arteries, identified landmarks allowing minimizing risks, and defined a safe zone.

Material and method

Distances between the posterior cortex and arteries were measured on CT scans from 30 adults (60 knees) at three levels (proximal part of the tibial tuberosity, 20 mm and 40 mm distally). Data were used to create a “risk map” with different angular sectors where the frequency of the presence of arteries was analyzed in each area. We also analyzed the position of 68 screws of 47 patients who underwent a medial tibial tuberosity transfer.


The nearest distance between artery and the posterior tibial cortex was found at the level corresponding to the top of the tuberosity with less than 1 mm, while the largest distance was found at the distal level. We were able to define a safe zone for drilling through the posterior tibial cortex which allows a safe fixation for the screws. This zone corresponds to the medial third of the posterior cortex. When the safe zone is not respected, screws that overtake the posterior cortex may be close to arteries as observed for 37 of the 68 screws analyzed.


We described new landmarks and recommendations to avoid this complication during tibial tuberosity transfer.


Popliteal artery injury Landmarks Safe zone Nails External fixation Anterior tibial tuberosity osteotomies 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

Jacques Hernigou, Esfandiar Chahidi, Mahine Kashi, Eric Moest, Bassel Dakhil, Georges Hayek, Antoine Callewier, Frederic Schuind, Olivier Bath declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

Video 1

The video presents 3D images of a leg and arteries target and the risk map according to our results (in green areas where arteries were never observed, in red areas were arteries were observed). (MP4 50682 kb)


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Copyright information

© SICOT aisbl 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jacques Hernigou
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Esfandiar Chahidi
    • 1
  • Mahine Kashi
    • 3
  • Eric Moest
    • 1
  • Bassel Dakhil
    • 3
  • Georges Hayek
    • 4
  • Antoine Callewier
    • 1
  • Frederic Schuind
    • 2
  • Olivier Bath
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Orthopaedic and Traumatology SurgeryCentre Hospitalier EpiCURA/Université Libre de BruxellesBaudourBelgium
  2. 2.Department of Orthopaedic and Traumatology SurgeryErasme Hospital/Université Libre de BruxellesBruxellesBelgium
  3. 3.Department of Vascular SurgeryVictor Dupouy HospitalArgenteuilFrance
  4. 4.Departement of RadiologyEuropean Hospital George Pompidou/Université Paris VParisFrance

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