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Calf muscle wasting after tibial shaft fracture
  1. M Khalid1,
  2. A Brannigan1,
  3. T Burke1
  1. 1Mid-Western Regional Orthopaedic Hospital, Limerick, Republic of Ireland
  2. 2Mid-Western Regional Hospital, Limerick
  1. Correspondence to:
 Mr Khalid
 Mid-Western Regional Orthopaedic Hospital, Limerick, Republic of Ireland; khalidbones{at}


Objectives: To study the long term effect of tibial shaft fractures treated by immobilisation in a long leg cast on the calf muscle bulk.

Methods: Computed tomography scans were performed at fixed points on the lower legs of 23 non-professional athletes who sustained closed tibial fractures 16 years previously. Length of immobilisation was determined from the hospital records. All the fractures were treated non-operatively. The cross sectional area of the various leg compartments was measured and compared with the non-injured leg.

Results: There was a significant reduction in cross sectional area of the posterior compartment (p<0.001, Student’s t test). No such difference was seen in the anterolateral compartment.

Conclusion: Tibial fractures treated non-operatively are associated with significant long term calf muscle wasting.

  • CSA, cross sectional area
  • CT, computed tomography
  • muscle wasting
  • fractures
  • young athletes
  • immobilisation
  • computed tomography

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  • Competing interests: none declared

  • Approval for this study was obtained from the ethics committee of Mid-Western Regional Hospital, Limerick, Ireland