No Incidence of Postoperative Knee Sepsis With Suprapatellar Nailing of Open Tibia Fractures

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Abstract

Objective:

To evaluate the incidence of knee sepsis after suprapatellar (SP) nailing of open tibia fractures.

Design:

Retrospective; Setting: ACS level 1 trauma center.

Patients/Participants:

We reviewed 139 open tibia fractures that underwent SP nailing as definitive treatment over a 5-year period (January 1, 2011 to January 1, 2016). Most patients (90%, n = 126) underwent intramedullary nailing at the time of their initial surgery. We defined knee sepsis as intra-articular infection requiring operative debridement, either open or arthroscopically, within 1 month's time.

Intervention:

Open tibia fractures treated with an SP tibial nail.

Main Outcome Measurements:

Demographic data, fracture characteristics, Gustilo and Anderson classification of open fractures, and occurrence of knee sepsis.

Results:

In 139 open tibia fractures, there were no cases of knee sepsis in the 30 days after treatment with an SP intramedullary nail. Eighty-seven percent of our cohort had Gustilo and Anderson type II (41%) or type III (46%) open fractures. Most open fractures (83%) underwent primary wound closure during the index procedures. Twenty-five limbs (18%) had evidence of infection at the open fracture site of their open fracture necessitating operative intervention and/or antibiotics: none, however, developed knee sepsis.

Conclusions:

Although the SP approach carries intra-articular risks, we found a low risk of knee sepsis using this technique in the treatment of open tibia fractures. Our data suggest that there is no greater risk of intra-articular infection using an SP portal as compared with an infrapatellar one.

Level of Evidence:

Therapeutic Level IV. See Instructions for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.

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