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Chua W, Murphy DP, Siow W, Kagda FH, Thambiah J
Correspondence: Dr Chua Weiliang, email@example.com
Introduction Open fractures of the tibia pose a challenge to orthopaedic and plastic surgeons. A retrospective observational review was conducted to evaluate the epidemiological factors and fracture outcomes in the Singapore context.
Methods A nine-year period of open tibial shaft fractures presenting to our institution was reviewed. Demographic and management data were recorded. Statistical analysis was performed on the outcomes of length of hospital stay, number of operations, time to union and infection rates.
Results 323 fractures met our inclusion criteria (Gustilo [G] 1 = 53, G2 = 100, G3 = 170). Mean age of patients was 36.5 years, 91.3% were male and 40.9% were non-Singaporeans. 69.3% of fractures occurred from road traffic accidents and 21.7% from industrial accidents. Mean length of hospital stay was 28.7 days and number of operations was 4.29. Time to union was 10.7 months and overall infection rate was 20.7%. Infection rates were significantly higher in G3b/G3c compared to G3a (45.7% vs. 21.1%) patients. There was no significant reduction in infection rates when open tibial fractures were operated on within six hours of admission. Multiple injured patients required a longer time to union and hospital stay. There was an exponential cost increase with greater severity of fracture.
Conclusion High Gustilo and AO classification injuries positively correlate with high non-union and infection rates, requiring multiple operations and long hospital stay. There is no benefit in performing surgery on open tibial fractures within six hours of presentation. A significant proportion of these patients would be polytraumatised, indirectly affecting fracture union.
Keywords: amputation, economics, epidemiology, open tibia fractures, salvage
Singapore Med J 2012; 53(6): 385–389