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Year : 2012  |  Volume : 53  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 16-20

Operative stabilization of open long bone fractures: A tropical tertiary hospital experience

Department of Orthopaedics and Trauma, University College Hospital, Ibadan, Nigeria

Correspondence Address:
Adeleke O Ifesanya
Department of Orthopaedics and Trauma, University College Hospital, Ibadan
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0300-1652.99825

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Background: Operative treatment of open fractures in our environment is fraught with problems of availability of theater space, appropriate hardware, and instrumentation such that high complication rates may be expected. Materials and Methods: We evaluated all open long bone fractures operatively stabilized at our center to determine the outcome of the various treatment modalities as well as the determinant factors. Result: A total of 160 patients with 171 fractures treated between December 1995 and December 2008 were studied. There were twice as many males; mean age was 35.0 years. About half were open tibia fractures. Gustilo IIIa and IIIb fractures each accounted for 56 cases (45.2%). Fifty-three percent were stabilized within the first week of injury. Interval between injury and operative fixation averaged 11.1 days. Anderson-Hutchin's technique was employed in 27 cases (21.8%), external fixation in 21 (16.9%), plate osteosynthesis in 50 (40.3%), and intramedullary nail 15 cases (12.1%). Mean time to union was 24.7 weeks. Fifty-two complications occurred in 50 fractures (40.3%) with joint stiffness and chronic osteomyelitis each accounting for a quarter of the complications. Union was delayed in grade IIIb open fractures and those fractures treated with external fixation. Conclusion: A significant proportion of open long bone fractures we operatively treated were severe. Severe open fractures (type IIIb) with concomitant stabilization using external fixation delayed fracture union. While we recommend intramedullary devices for open fractures, in our setting where locking nails are not readily available, external fixation remains the safest choice of skeletal stabilization particularly when contamination is high.

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