Open Tibia Shaft Fractures and Soft-Tissue Coverage: The Effects of Management by an Orthopaedic Microsurgical Team

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To compare the timing of soft-tissue (flap) coverage and occurrence of complications before and after the establishment of an integrated orthopaedic trauma/microsurgical team.


Retrospective cohort study.


A single level 1 trauma center.


Twenty-eight subjects (13 pre- and 15 post-integration) with open tibia shaft fractures (OTA/AO 42A, 42B, and 42C) treated with flap coverage between January 2009 and March 2015.


Flap coverage for open tibia shaft fractures treated before (“preintegration”) and after (“postintegration”) implementation of an integrated orthopaedic trauma/microsurgical team.

Main Outcome Measure:

Time from index injury to flap coverage.


The unadjusted median time to coverage was 7 days (95% confidence interval, 5.9–8.1) preintegration, and 6 days (95% confidence interval, 4.6–7.4) postintegration (P = 0.48). For preintegration, 9 (69%) of the patients experienced complications, compared with 7 (47%) postintegration (P = 0.23).


After formation of an integrated orthopaedic trauma/microsurgery team, we observed a 1-day decrease in median days to coverage from index injury. Complications overall were lowered in the postintegration group, although statistically insignificant.

Level of Evidence:

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

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